Dr. Mao and Dr. Yazici Collaborate on Research
Dr. Xinwei Mao and Dr. Anil Yazici are collaborating on the project “Best Practices for the Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling of Vehicle Wash Water” supported by New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). This is a two-year project, and this study will investigate techniques to allow more sustainable and cost-effective cleaning practices during all seasons. The overall goal is to develop best practices for NYSDOT maintenance vehicle and equipment washing while minimizing water consumption and reducing the discharge of pollutants to the environment.
Vehicle wash water contains a series of contaminants at various concentrations. Oil, grease, suspended and dissolved solids, heavy metals, and elevated dissolved residual salts (essentially the majority part of dissolved solids) are commonly found in the wash water discharge. In addition, other emerging contaminants at various concentrations with potential toxicity may be present due to the use of detergents, soaps, cleaners, anti-freezing reagents, corrosion inhibitors and salt neutralizers, etc. The greatest cleaning challenge for NYSDOT’s maintenance vehicles and equipment is during snow and ice (S&I) season, when tons of salt was used during the deicing practice (Figure 1). A typical vehicle wash water treatment process is presented in Figure 2. The study will also evaluate the effectiveness of wash water recycling systems, rates of chloride loading in the recycled wash water, and disposal/discharge/re-use options for the recycled wash water (Figure 3).
Another aspect of the project is the costs of S&I operations. The highly corrosive chemicals and salts reduce the lifetime of S&I equipment considerably. The S&I equipment are specialized equipment with custom-made mechanisms and vehicle parts. A single customized truck can cost about $200K, however they can start failing in few years due to extreme working conditions. Accordingly, identifying practices that can extend the life of equipment can results in significant savings for the State. As a part of the project, the CIV researchers are also investigating whether there are certain practices that can reduce the costs and extend the equipment lifetime.
Dozens of sites were selected for field visits and sampling, with a minimum of two maintenance facilities from each of the NYSDOT regions (Figure 4). The selected sites are visited both during and out of the S&I season for vehicle wash water collection and field information survey collections. The project is currently underway with more intensive sampling during the incoming winter! We are also looking for undergraduate research assistant to join the research team.