Scale Up of the Ceres Nanotrap Particle Production Process; An Evaluation of the Municipal Waste Management System in the United States

Miedaner, Peter, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Elliott, Travis, EN-STS Dept, University of Virginia
Anderson, Eric, EN-Chem Engr Dept, University of Virginia

As populations and comforts of living grow across the globe, it is imperative that human-produced waste is managed safely and effectively. The enclosed technical report titled, “Scale Up of the Ceres Nanotrap Particle Production Process,” details the work done to reduce the waste-impact of Ceres Nano, a small biotechnology company based out of Northern Virginia. Additionally, the research paper titled, “An Evaluation of the Municipal Waste Management System in the United States,” details the historical and societal influences that directed the implementation of waste management technologies in the US. While the prior report offers a detailed look into cutting-edge waste management technologies, the latter examines how and why certain technologies are implemented over others. Both reports are important in understanding how to improve the existing waste management systems to minimize the harmful impacts on the environment.
In response to a rise in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ceres Nano increased the scale of their production process, resulting in a proportional increase in process waste. This waste is not only costly to the company but has a deleterious impact on the environment. The capstone team was tasked with proposing alternative ways to reuse and reduce process waste. This work examined some of the state-of-the-art waste technologies and assessed their effectiveness as alternatives to traditional remediation techniques. It was concluded that the most effective solutions to Ceres’ waste management issues would be a counter-current tangential flow filtration system, recycling of unreacted materials, and filtration via activated carbon. Generally, the work exemplifies how companies can and should reduce the waste from their processes.
While the technical report examined how companies can revise their waste management system, the STS report examines what societal and historical factors shaped the current waste management system in the US. This was done by analyzing social factors through the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK) framework. Using this framework, science can be understood as a social activity, and the effects of social trends on waste management science can be readily deduced. For example, the social norms exhibited during the Antebellum and Industrial Revolution eras led to the adoption of landfills as the primary means of waste management. What’s more, the pillars of American culture contributed to the privatization of the waste management industry, an increase in materialism, and a relationship between scientific progress and reputation. The evidence suggests that the historical and societal effects on waste management in the US were significant and helps explain why the current waste management infrastructure exists.
A revamping of the US’s waste management system is a necessary step as the country strives to become a greener nation. To do so, an in depth understanding of the complex interplay between science, technology, and society is necessary, as well as the technical knowledge and ability to implement new technologies in a company. This portfolio attempts to progress on both fronts, but certainly leaves room for more work to be done.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Waste management, Ceres, sociology of scientific knowledge
Sponsoring Agency:
Ceres Nanosciences, Inc.

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Eric Anderson
STS Advisor: S. Travis Elliot
Technical Team Members: James Mullin, Justin Fernandes, Amy Wang, Kathryn Smith

Issued Date: