Jason Mak

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts, and Sciences (IDEAS)

First Advisor

Alberto Lamadrid

Second Advisor

Mark Snyder

Third Advisor

Srinivas Rangarajan


This paper presents a three way cost comparison between three different methods of wastewater treatment: a conventional activated sludge plant, an adsorption based plant and a surcharge based system. We assumed plant capacity of 1 million gallons per day and wastewater composition of 2% phenolic compound, BOD5 of 1370 mg/L and TSS of 1400 mg/L. Capital, construction, non-construction, operational and maintenance costs for all three systems were calculated, and their costs discounted over a period of ten years to find the Net Present Value in first quarter 2016 USD. The discount rate used was 8% as that was the average weighted average cost of capital for wastewater treatment firms across the United States. NPV was determined to be positive $31,000,000 for an adsorption based plant assuming 100% efficiencies, negative $14,600,000 for a conventional activated sludge plant, and negative $9,100,000 for a surcharge system. There is potential for significant revenue generation in the resource recovery stage of an adsorption process, where up to $6,200,000 worth of steam can be generated when the adsorbent is burned off. Therefore, this study shows that an adsorption based wastewater treatment plant can be economically and financially feasible.