Multi-controlled bioreactors for thermophilic nitrogen removal

01 January 2013 → 31 December 2015
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Environmental microorganism biotechnology
Project description

In this research grant proposal, we want to transpose natural microbial resources into an unexplored, but potentially powerful environmental application. The specific research focus is on the removal of harmful ammonium (NH4 +) from polluted warm wastewater. Compared to the established mesophilic processes (10-35°C), biotechnology at thermophilic temperatures (45-70°C) is hypothesized to have clear advantages: higher stability, faster reactions, less biomass production, better hygienization and energy-saving (cooling). The required thermophilic microbes are shown to exist. The overall research objective is to establish for the first time the continuous cultivation and validation of a thermophilic consortium of aerobic and anoxic microbes for nitrogen removal. The key equipment pieces to succeed in this objective are two bioreactors with superior multicontrol of dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and feeding for aseptic operation and sampling in a gas-tight reactor with a condenser minimizing evaporation. The continuous cultivation will be based on a strategy with synthetic versus co-evolutive consortia. The most performant consortium will be biotechnologically validated on a real waste stream through process optimization, emissions mitigation and stress resilience management, comparing the novel thermophilic process to the existing mesophilic one. The proposed equipment is currently not available at LabMET UGent and is critical to facilitate this pioneering research project.