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Zhiwu (Drew) Wang

Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
44961 Loudoun Water Way, Ashburn VA 20147

Program Area : Environmental and Water Resources Engineering
Professional Registration : Montana License No. 20462
Personal Homepage :

Area of Interest

water/wastewater treatment, nutrient removal/recovery, anaerobic digestion, biofilm reactors, bioprocess modeling, and the bioconversion of waste into bioenergy and bioproducts.

  • Ph.D., Environmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 2007
  • B.E., Environmental Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, China, 2000
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2015-present
  • Director of the Renewable Energy Program, The Ohio State University, 2014-2015
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, 2011-2014
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2009-2011
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Washington State University, 2007-2009
  • CEE 3104 : Introduction to Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 4174 : Solid and Hazardous Waste Management
  • CEE 5984 : (SPRING 2018) Biofilms Science & Technology
  • CEE 5100 : Stormwater Treatment
  • I
    • Systematic Characterization of Variability in MSW Streams to Identify Critical Material Attributes for Fuel Production (DE-EE0009667), DOE-BETO, 10/2021-9/2025, $3,411,838, with Lansing, Ray, Ding, Lin, Ge, Li, Yu, Dillah, and Shah.
    • Nitrogen Reduction Technology Solutions for Ocean Discharges,  Water Research Foundation (WRF 5133), 2021-2022, $90,000
    • Innovative Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) Production with Microbial Electrochemical Technology (MET) Incorporation for Community-Scale Waste Valorization, DOE-BETO, 2020-2023, $1,985,230, with Lansing, Yates, Wahlen, Hu, Ge, and Li
    • Effects of Carbon Source and C:N Ratio on Partial Denitrification/Anammox in MBBR, Hazen & Sawyer, 2020-2021, $100,000
    • Collaborative Research: A novel biological valorization of hydrothermal liquefaction wastewater with marine protist and its granulated phenotype, NSF-PRM (2001568), 2021-2023, $450,000, with Yi and Kumar
    • Continuous flow aerobic granulation study in real municipal wastewater (Phase I, II, III), Upper Occoquan Service Authority, 2018-2020, $157,501
    • A novel anaerobic digestion system with water recirculation to treat poultry litter for struvite and biogas production, USDA-NIFA (2019-67021-29945), $457,011, 2019-2022, with Zhu and Wu
    • Synergistic integration of the biogranulation theory into advanced membrane bioreactors for value-added chemicals production from food waste, USDA-NIFA (2018-67021-27895), 2018-2020, $327,517, with Huang and Shuai
    • Anaerobic digestion studies at Arlington county water pollution control plant, CDM Smith, 2016-2017, $70,772
    • An Z.H., Zhang X.Y., Zheng Y., Wang Z.W. (2021) Aerobic granulation of single culture protist, Process Biochemistry, DOI:
    • An Z.H., Bot C.B., Angelotti B., Brooks M., Wang Z.W. (2021) Leveraging feast and famine selection pressure during startup of continuous flow aerobic granulation systems to manage treatment performance, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, DOI:
    • An Z.H., Zhang X.Y., Bot C.B., Wang Z.W. (2021) Long-term stability of nitrifying granules in a membrane bioreactor without hydraulic selection pressure, Processes, 9(6), 1024, DOI:
    • Luo H., Zhang D., Taylor M., Nguyen C., Wang Z.W. (2021) Aeration in sludge holding tanks as an economical means for biosolids odor control – A case study, Water Environment Research, 2021;00:1–11, DOI:
    • Wang S., Liu Q.X., Li J., Wang Z.W. (2021) Methane in wastewater treatment plants: status, characteristics, and bioconversion feasibility by methane oxidizing bacteria for high value-added chemicals production and wastewater treatment, Water Research, 198, 117122, DOI:
    • Zhang D., An Z.H., Strawn M., Broderick T., Khunjar W., Wang Z.W. (2021) Understanding the Formation of Recalcitrant Dissolved Organic Nitrogen as A Result of Thermal Hydrolysis Pretreatment and Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Sludge, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 7, 335-345, DOI:
    • Sun Y.W., Gomeiz A.T., Aken B.V., Angelotti B., Brooks M., Wang Z.W. (2021) Dynamic response of aerobic granular sludge to feast and famine conditions in plug flow reactors fed with real domestic wastewater, Science of the Total Environment, 758, 144155, DOI:
    • An Z.H., Sun Y.W., Angelotti B., Brooks M., Wang Z.W. (2020) Densification dependence in continuous flow and sequential batch granulation systems on reactor feast-to-famine duration ratio, Journal of Water Process Engineering, 101800, DOI:
    • Zhang D., Santha H., Pallanschb K., Novaka J.T., Wang Z.W. (2020) Repurposing pre-pasteurization as an in-situ thermal hydrolysis pretreatment process for enhancing anaerobic digestion of municipal sludge: A horizontal comparison between temperature-phased and standalone thermophilic or mesophilic anaerobic digestion, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology,
    • An Z.H., Kent T.R., Sun Y.W., Charles B., Wang Z.W. (2020) Free ammonia resistance of NOB developed in aerobic granular sludge cultivated in continuous upflow airlift reactors performing partial nitritation, Water Environment Research, DOI:
    • Sun Y.W., Angelotti B., Brooks M.A., and Wang Z.W. (2020) Feast/Famine Ratio Determined Continuous Flow Aerobic Granulation, Science of the Total Environment, 141467
    • Jin Q., An Z., Damle A., Poe N., Wu J., Wang H., Wang Z.W., Huang H. (2020) High acetone-butanol-ethanol production from food waste by recombinant Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum in batch and continuous immobilized-cell fermentation, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 8, 26, 9822–9832
    • Alfredo K., Lin J., Islam A., and Wang Z.W. (2020) Impact of activated carbon-block point-of-use (POU) filters on chloraminated water quality, AWWA Water Science, 2(3) e1180.
    • Zhang D., Strawn M., Broderick T., Novak J.T., Wang Z.W. (2020) Effects of anaerobic digester solids retention time on odor emission and dewaterability of biosolids subjected to various shear intensity, polymer doses, and storage duration, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 6, 1588-1596
    • Zhang D., Sun Y.W., Angelotti B., Wang Z.W. (2020) Understanding the dewaterability of aerobic granular sludge formed in continuous flow bioreactors treating real domestic wastewater: is it really better than that of the activated sludge? Journal of Water Process Engineering, 36, 101253
    • Zhang D., Feng Y.M., Huang H.B., Khunjar W.O., Wang Z.W. (2020) Recalcitrant Dissolved Organic Nitrogen Formation in Thermal Hydrolysis Pretreatment of Municipal Sludge, Environment International, 138, 105629
    • Sun Y., Vaidya R., Khunjar W.O., Rosenfeldt E., Selbes M., Wilson C., Bott C.B., Titcomb M., Wang Z.W. (2019) Mathematical Modeling of Biologically Active Filtration (BAF) for Potable Water Production Applications, Water Research, 167, 115128
    • Kent T.R., Sun Y.W., An Z.H., Bott C.B., Wang Z.W. (2019) Mechanistic Understanding of the NOB Suppression by Free Ammonia Inhibition in Continuous Flow Aerobic Granulation Bioreactors, Environment International, 131, 105005
    • Yu D.J., Sun Y.W., Wang W.J., O'Keefe S.F., Neilson A.P., Feng H., Wang Z.W., Huang H.B. (2019) Recovery of Protein Hydrolysates from Brewer's Spent Grain using Enzyme and Ultrasonication, International Journal of Food Science and Technology DOI:
    • Shah P. and Wang Z.W. (2019) Using digital polymerase chain reaction to characterize microbial communities in wetland mesocosm soils under different vegetation and seasonal nutrient loadings, Science of the Total Environment, 689, 269-277
    • Sun Y.W., Angelotti B., and Wang Z.W. (2019) Continuous-flow aerobic granulation in plug-flow bioreactors fed with real domestic wastewater, Science of the Total Environment, 688, 762-770
    • Zhang D., Angelotti B., Schlosser E., and Wang Z.W. (2019) Using cerium chloride to control soluble orthophosphate concentration and improve the dewaterability of sludge: Part II. A case study, Water Environment Research, DOI:
    • Zhang D., Angelotti B., Schlosser E., Novak J.T., and Wang Z.W. (2019) Using cerium chloride to control soluble orthophosphate concentration and improve the dewaterability of sludge: Part I. mechanistic understanding, Water Environment Research, DOI:
    • Li X.J., Sun Y.W., Wang Z.W., He Z. (2019) Theoretical understanding of the optimum conditions for a mainstream granular nitritation-anammox reactor coupled with anaerobic pretreatment, Science of The Total Environment, 669 (15): 683-691
    • Ma J., Xie S., Yu L., Zhen Y., Zhao Q., Frear C., Chen S., Wang Z.W. and Shi Z. (2019) pH shaped Kinetic characteristics and microbial community of food waste hydrolysis and acidification. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 146, 52-59
    • Sun Y.W., Angelotti B., Brooks M., Dowbiggin B., Evans P.J., Devins B., and Wang Z.W. (2018) A pilot-scale investigation of disinfection by-product precursor and trace organic removal mechanisms in ozone-biologically activated carbon treatment for potable reuse, Chemosphere, 210:539-549
    • Kent T.R., Bott, C.B., and Wang Z.W. (2018) State of the art of aerobic granulation in continuous flow bioreactors, Biotechnology Advances, 36(4): 1139-1166
    • Zhang D., Strawn M., Novak J.T., and Wang Z.W. (2018) Kinetic modeling of the effect of solids retention time on Methanethiol dynamics in Anaerobic Digestion, Water Research,138, 301-311
    • Cui Y.W., Gong X.Y., Shi Y.P. and Wang Z.W. (2017) Salinity effect on production of PHA and EPS by Haloferax mediterranei, RSC Advances, 7(84): 53587-53595
    • Sun Y.W., Zhang D., and Wang Z.W. (2017) The potential of using biological nitrogen removal technique for stormwater treatment, Ecological Engineering, 106: 482-495
    • Luo S., Wang Z.W., and He Z. (2017) Mathematical modeling of the dynamic behavior of an integrated photo-bioelectrochemical system for simultaneous wastewater treatment and bioenergy recovery, Energy, 124: 227-237
    • Cui Y.W., Zhang H.Y., Ji S.Y. and Wang Z.W. (2016) Kinetic analysis of the temperature effect on polyhydroxyalkanoate production by Haloferax mediterranei in synthetic molasses wastewater, Journal of Polymers and the Environment, 1-9
    • Wang L.L., Li W.Z., Wang Z.J., Wang Z.W., Sui C., Li Y. (2016) Effect of digestate application depth on soil nitrogen volatilization and vertical distribution, International Journal of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, 9: 101-107
    • Wang Z.W., Xu F.Q, Manchala, K.R., Sun Y.W., and Li Y.B. (2016) Fractal-like kinetics of the solid-state anaerobic digestion, Waste Management, 53: 55-61
    • Xu F.Q., Li Y.B.* and Wang Z.W.* (2015) Mathematical modeling of solid-state anaerobic digestion, Progress in Energy and Combustion Science, 51, 49-66
    • Sheets J.P, Yang L.C., Ge X.M, Wang Z.W., and Li Y.B. (2015) Beyond land application: Emerging technologies for the treatment and reuse of anaerobically digested agricultural and food waste, Waste Management, 44, 94-115
    • Xu F.Q., Wang Z.W. and Li Y.B., (2014) A mass diffusion-based interpretation of the total solids effect on solid-state anaerobic digestion of cellulosic biomass, Bioresource Technology, 167:178-185
    • Xu F.Q., Wang Z.W. and Li Y.B., (2014) Predicting the methane yield of lignocellulosic biomass in mesophilic solid-state anaerobic digestion based on feedstock characteristics and process parameters, Bioresource Technology, 173:168-176
    • Li X.K, Wang S.T., Wang Z.W., and Ma J. (2013) In-depth characterization of secondary effluent from a conventional municipal wastewater treatment plant in northern China for tertiary treatment, Water Science and Technology, 69(7):1482-1488
    • Wang Z.W. and Li Y.B., (2013) A theoretical derivation of the Contois equation for kinetic modeling of microbial growth on insoluble substrate, Biochemical Engineering Journal, 82(15) 134-138
    • Wang Z.W., Lee S.H., Elkins J.G., Li Y.C., Hamilton-Brehm S., Morrell-Falvey, J.L. (2013) Continuous live cell imaging of cellulose attachment by microbes under anaerobic and thermophilic conditions using confocal microscopy, Journal of Environmental Sciences, 25(5): 1-8
    • Ma J.W., Frear C., Wang Z.W., Yu L., Zhao Q.B., Li X.J., Chen S.L. (2012) A simple methodology for rate-limiting step determination for anaerobic digestion of complex substrates and effect of microbial community ratio, Bioresource Technology, 134: 391-395
    • Wang Z.W., Elkins J.G., Morrell-Falvey J.L. (2011) Spatial and temporal dynamics of cellulose degradation and biofilm formation by Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis and Clostridium thermocellum, AMB Express 1:30-40
    • Borole A.P., Reguera G., Ringeisen B., Wang Z.W., Feng Y.J. and Kim, B.H. (2011) Electro-Active Biofilms: Current Status and Future Research Needs, Energy and Environmental Science 4: 4813-4834
    • Wang Z.W, Hamilton-Brehm S.D., Elkins J.G., Lochner A., Morrell-Falvey J.L. (2010) Mathematical modeling of hydrolysate diffusion and utilization in cellulolytic biofilms of the extreme thermophile Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis, Bioresource Technology 102(3):3155-3162
    • Wang Z.W., Ma J.W. and Chen S.L. (2010) Bipolar effects of settling time on active biomass retention in anaerobic sequencing batch reactors digesting flushed dairy manure, Bioresource technology 102(2):697-702
    • Frear C., Wang Z.W., Li C.L. and Chen S.L. (2010) Biogas potential and microbial population distributions in flushed dairy manure and implications on anaerobic digestion technology, Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology 86(1):145-152.
    • Wang Z.W. and Chen S.L. (2009) Potential of biofilm-based biofuel production, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 83(1):1-18
    • Li Y., Liu Y. and Wang Z.W. (2009) Stoichiometric analysis of dissolved organic carbon flux into storage and growth in aerobic granules culture. Biotechnology Journal 4(2): 238-246
    • Wang Z.W., Liu Y. Tay J.H. (2007) Biodegradability of extracellular polymeric substances produced by aerobic granules. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 74(2): 462-466
  • Wang Z.W. and Liu Y. (2007) Mechanism of calcium accumulation in acetate-fed aerobic granule. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 74(2): 467-473