A Cal Poly Pomona professor’s research aimed at recycling home wastewater for reuse on the spot is getting a boost in the form of a $10,000 grant from the Southern California Gas Company.
Ali Sharbat, a civil engineering professor, has received the company’s Environmental Champions Grant, which funds innovative projects that address clean air, clean energy or water conversation.
“Southern California Gas takes pride in awarding an Environmental Challenge grant to Cal Poly Pomona that will provide students with the opportunities to develop new methods of dealing with waste water issues that will ultimately benefit the local economy” says Bob Cruz, public affairs manager for SoCal Gas.
Sharbat and his 10 undergraduate students and three graduate students are working to build a solar-powered device that can turn so-called graywater into something clean enough to be reused for watering plants or even bathing.
“We use graywater, which is any waste water generated except kitchen or toilet,” he says. “Examples of that would be water from the shower or the laundry room.”
The goal is to increase efficiency in home water use. In theory, he says, a person could shower with only five gallons of water that was being continuously recycled.
Sharbat says they are also looking at ways to apply the same technology on a much larger scale so it could be used at municipal water treatment facilities.
The project is a spin-off of an early endeavor of Sharbat’s in which he and his students developed a solar-powered appliance that could supply drinking water to people living in low-income farming communities. Those communities often struggle to find clean water because their wells are contaminated with salts, fertilizers or other pollutants.
“A few months ago SoCal Gas heard about what we were doing here. They liked the idea and they think it’s something we need to do more of in Southern California,” he says.
Sharbat’s team has a few other partners for this latest effort. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has provided $70,000 in funding, while Carollo Engineers is assisting by sharing some of its expertise in wastewater treatment. They will be piloting the project at the Inland Empire Utilities Agency’s Carbon Canyon Water Recycling Facility in Chino Hills.