Technology for thermophilic nitrogen removal from wastewater: Developing combined nitrification/denitrification and proving anammox

Post date: Monday, 19 November, 2018 - 15:44

Abstract of the doctoral research:

Extremely warm environments, such as hot springs (>50°C), harbor the pioneers of life on Earth. Some of these so-called thermophiles make a living on converting inorganic nitrogen and organic carbon into nitrogen gas (N2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). These conversions are known as nitrification/denitrification and are exactly those needed to transform the pollutants in wastewater into ecologically harmless compounds. Current (waste)water treatment (<40°C) produces tremendous amounts of waste material, so-called sludge. The application of thermophiles would lower this considerably, entailing cost savings along with a lower burden to the environment. Additionally, existing treatment cannot always adequately inactivate pathogens present in wastewater. Thermophilic technology would greatly improve hygienization, rendering a treated water that is biologically safe. Prior to this study, the biotechnological potential of separate thermophilic nitrification, denitrification and aerobic carbon removal was shown.

This PhD research thoroughly investigated the stoichiometry and kinetics of these separate thermophilic conversions. The resulting information enabled the model-based integration and economic evaluation of nitrification/denitrification, implying potential economic advantages at 50°C compared to 30°C. In lab-scale reactors, a step-wise integration of nitrification and denitrification provided proof of principle that complete nitrogen removal can be obtained at 50°C in a single-sludge system. Finally, the first proof of long-term operation (>200 days) of a thermophilic anammox bioreactor, of which stoichiometry and kinetics was characterized, opened up opportunites for shortcut nitrogen removal.

More information click here

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Ir. Nico Boon & Prof. Dr. Ir. Siegfried Vlaeminck

Event location: De Cirque, Bijlokesite-Louis Pasteurlaan 2, 9000 Gent.
Event date: Friday, 7 December, 2018 - 17:00

Hoe (afval)water opwaarderen tot proceswater van de juiste kwaliteit

Post date: Friday, 7 December, 2018 - 11:21

Water is een cruciale grondstof voor de procesindustrie. Maar, zoetwater is schaars. Daarom onderzoekt de testinstallatie van IMPROVED of het mogelijk is om ook andere watersoorten, zoals brak water en afvalwater, op te waarderen tot proceswater van de juiste kwaliteit. De testinfrastructuur die bestaat uit twee mobiele containers, verhuisde midden november van BASF Antwerpen naar de site van Dow Terneuzen. De vierde workshop van IMPROVED gaat dan ook door bij Dow. Deze keer kan je kiezen uit een bezoek aan de containers in werking of een bezoek aan de DECO-waterzuiveringsinstallatie van Evides Industriewater.

Gratis inschrijving voor 24 januari 2019 via deze link

Event location: Dow Terneuzen: Communicatiecentrum "De Boerderij"
Event date: Tuesday, 29 January, 2019 - 12:30 to 17:30

Good modelling practice for process engineering: pitfalls and requirements to develop fit for purpose models

Post date: Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 - 10:11
Event location: Graz, Austria

Towards improved membrane fouling modelling: from an empirical to a spatially explicit framework

Post date: Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 - 10:01

More information click here

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Ir. Ingmar Nopens & Prof. Dr. Ir. Jan Baetens

Event location: Academieraadzaal, Blok A, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent
Event date: Wednesday, 9 January, 2019 - 16:00

Synthetic microbial communities for urine nitrification in Regenerative Life Support Systems: bottom-up design, ground optimization and spaceflights.

Post date: Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 - 09:45

Abstract of the doctoral research:

Human life during space missions is currently enabled by a regular resupply of food and water. To sustain human space exploration missions where no resupply is possible or sustainable, the recycling of water and wastes, combined with in-situ production of oxygen and food is necessary.
Nitrogen is a critical nutrient for edible plant and single cell protein production and, as waste, is present primarily (~80%) in urine, in the form of urea. Although urea can be directly utilized as nitrogen source, its conversion in the more stable form of nitrate is preferred. This can be achieved through microbial conversions performed by ureolytic and nitrifying bacteria.

In this PhD research, a bottom-up selection and step-wise combination of the microorganisms necessary for ureolysis and nitrification was utilized to develop a functional microbial community. Since alteration in gravity, radiation and temperature typical of the space environment can affect the functionality of bacteria, their activity was evaluated after exposure to space conditions during two space missions.

The results obtained demonstrated the conversion of urea into nitrate with the selected strains and the preservation of functionality after space exposure, paving the way for future urine nitrification in space.

More information click here

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Ir. Nico Boon, Prof. Dr. Ir. Siegfried Vlaeminck & Dr. Ir. Peter Clauwaert

Event location: Academieraadzaal, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent
Event date: Wednesday, 19 December, 2018 - 16:30

Latest advancements in validation methods used for CFD modelling

Post date: Thursday, 22 November, 2018 - 16:14

R2T partner company AM-TEAM organizes a seminar entitled: “Latest advancements in validation methods used for CFD modelling”.
The seminar will include a presentation by Daria Sudrawska (Trainee at AM-TEAM) followed by a discussion session of 30-40 minutes.
If you are interested in joining please use this link.

Event location: AM-TEAM office in Gent
Event date: Tuesday, 11 December, 2018 - 13:00

Innovative routes for recovery of nitrogen

Post date: Monday, 19 November, 2018 - 15:54

On Monday 3/12/2018 we will organize a minisymposium on the occasion of the PhD defence of Marlies Christiaens whereby several jury members and other speakers will give their view on nitrogen recovery technologies.

Interested in joining? please use the contactform on this site

14:00: Welcome (Korneel Rabaey)

14:05: Kara Nelson (UC Berkeley, US)

Feasibility assessment of urine source separation and ion exchange to produce fertilizer from urine in San Francisco and Nairobi

14:35: Kai Udert (EAWAG, Switzerland)

Bad connection? New approaches to sanitation

15:05: Christophe Lasseur (European Space Agency, the Netherlands)

Mission to Mars: how to close cycles in space?

15:35: Jolien Depaepe (CMET, UGent)

Combining (bio)electrochemical processes and nitrification for urine recycling in Space

15:50: Sebastiaan Derese (PaInT, UGent)

Physico-chemical approaches for selective nitrogen removal

16:05: Ilje Pikaar (University of Queensland, Australia)

The Potential and limitations of microbial protein as high quality animal feed

16:30: Closure of symposium

17:00: PhD defence of Marlies Christiaens

Event location: Aula Universiteit Gent, Volderstraat 9, Ghent
Event date: Monday, 3 December, 2018 - 14:00 to 16:45

Technologies for resource recovery from human urine: terrestrial and space applications

Post date: Monday, 19 November, 2018 - 15:38

Abstract of the doctoral research:

On earth, mineral fertilizers are extensively produced and inefficiently used. Tremendous losses on the fields result in economic costs and the deterioration of the environment. In long-term space missions, on the other hand, nitrogen is often scarce and therefore valuable. In both cases, nitrogen recycling and valorisation from concentrated waste streams, such as human urine, can tackle these issues.
Urine can be separately collected at the toilet. Prone to microbial growth, urine is highly unstable resulting in NH3 release, but also loss, odor nuisance, and scaling of source separation infrastructure and downstream valorisation technologies. Therefore, controlled urine hydrolysis and thus stabilisation in a reactor in the toilet was found to resolve these issues. Inoculation with autofermented urine would be sufficient for rapid start-up. In space, direct filtration would be more suitable.
Two novel technologies were developed for nitrogen valorisation. One strategy is to extract ammonium from urine directly via electrochemically assisted membrane stripping, resulting in an ammonia liquid, free of urine-derived microorganisms and micropollutants. This can be used as a feed source for the production of microbial biomass, rich in protein. By applying this biomass as a feed additive, the need to grow feed crops on agricultural land with mineral fertilizer reduces.
Another strategy relies on microorganisms converting the nitrogen into nitrate. This can then be used in closed loop systems, e.g. in space, as a liquid fertilizer for plant growth on site. Space conditions, however, require a fully known (‘gnotobiotic’) microbial community. A synthetic consortium was established and proven to nitrify urine in a long-term continuous reactor, producing a sterile nitrate effluent.
The implementation of both technology concepts in (extra)terrestrial applications allows to replace inefficient and costly nitrogen usage with nitrogen recovery.

More information click here

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Ir. Korneel Rabaey & Prof. Dr. Ir. Siegfried Vlaeminck

 

Event location: Aula of Ghent University, Voldersstraat 9, 9000 Gent
Event date: Monday, 3 December, 2018 - 17:00

Seminar day: Single cell technologies for microbial community characterization

Post date: Tuesday, 18 September, 2018 - 17:16

We will  be organizing a special seminar on single-cell technologies for microbial community characterization. Specifically we will focus on the applications of flow cytometry and Raman Spectroscopy with a selected panel of 6 national and international speakers from industry and academia.

 

  • Prof. Susann Müller / Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) – Leizpig (DE)

Can microbial communities be controlled in managed systems?

  • Prof. Hyun-Dong Chang / Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum (DRFZ) – Berlin (DE)

Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting of a Defined Intestinal Microbiota

  • Prof. Wei Huang / Synthetic biology & single-cell biotechnology, University of Oxford (UK)

Raman activated cell sorting and metagenomics sequencing reveals carbon-fixing bacteria in the ocean.

  • Dr. Michael Besmer (CEO) / OnCyt microbiology AG, Zürich (CH)

On-line/Real-time Flow Cytometry for Microbial Monitoring

  • Dr. Björn Biederman / rqmicro AG, Schlieren (CH)

Rapid & reliable detection of pathogens

  • Prof. Frank Delvigne / Université de Liège (BE)

Phenotypic heterogeneity in bioprocess monitoring

  • Q&A session: Practical flow cytometry

Set-up and design considerations for routine flow cytometric monitoring of microbial populations

Event location: Campus Dunant, building 24.01 – Dunant 2, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent
Event date: Tuesday, 16 October, 2018 - 09:00 to 17:00

Microbial population and community dynamics in natural and managed freshwater systems: from methodology development to mechanistic insights

Post date: Tuesday, 18 September, 2018 - 17:04

Abstract of the doctoral research:

Freshwater ecosystems are hotspots of biodiversity, biogeochemical processes, and provide numerous societal services (e.g., drinking water production, wastewater treatment). The microbial communities that inhabit these systems form complex networks of interacting populations, for which the structure and function are not yet fully understood. This PhD research presents new insights into the microbial community ecology of both natural (i.e., lakes) and managed (i.e., cooling and drinking water) freshwater systems by developing and validating new technologies to study them and by investigating the genomic adaptations to their freshwater habitat.

A novel flow cytometric fingerprinting method for measuring microbial diversity was developed that correlated strongly with the benchmark marker gene sequencing approach typically used in diversity surveys. This new approach was applied in the monitoring of cooling water systems, the detection of microbial disturbances in drinking water, and the tracking of lake microbial diversity during exposure to invasive species. In parallel, the genomic adaptations of the prevalent microbial populations which shape the diversity in these managed and natural freshwater communities were investigated. We found that positive selection on nutrient scavenging genes and morphological plasticity may be adaptations to phosphate-limited environments commonly found in managed systems. In natural freshwater systems, our results indicated that small genetic or expression differences between populations can facilitate adaptation to steep temperature gradients, while larger genetic and expression differences underpin adaptation to nutrient gradients.

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Ir. Nico Boon, Prof. Dr. Ir. Vincent Denef & Dr. Ir. Pieter Monsieurs

Event location: Conference Center "Het Pand", Onderbergen 1, Gent
Event date: Monday, 15 October, 2018 - 17:00

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