Kinetics and microbial ecology of chain elongation for production of medium-chain carboxylic acids

Post date: Thursday, 2 January, 2020 - 15:00

Abstract of the doctoral research of Pieter Candry:

All of us have been in contact with bioproduction processes: the alcohol in the beer we drink, the lactic acid in the yoghurt and cheese we eat, and the acetic acid encountered in vinegar. All of them are examples of how we can put bacteria to good use to make food, but also chemicals and consumer products. When feeding these bacteria with organic waste streams, one could effectively make products from wastes.
In this Ph.D., caproic acid was targeted. With an aroma reminiscent of goat and waxes, it is a product that received much interest in scientific research in the last years, as it can be produced by bacteria from wastes, and could potentially be used as antibiotic substitute in animal feed, or, converted to solvents, fragrances, flavours and more.
In this Ph.D. different routes were explored to produce caproic acid, and, an emphasis was placed on the interactions between different bacterial groups in these production systems. Using ethanol as a starting point, the process was modelled, mixed cultures were investigated and how ethanol is used by the key organism was elaborated. Subsequently, the research moved on to the use of lactic acid, and what factors control efficient production processes. Lastly, the bacteria present in caproic acid-producing granules, i.e. bacterial aggregates 3 mm in size, and their interactions were explored.

Dissertation Supervisors:

 Prof. Dr. Ir. Korneel Rabaey, Prof. Dr. Ramon Ganigué & Dr. José Maria Carvajal-Arroyo

Event location: Het Pand, Gent
Event date: Wednesday, 8 January, 2020 - 17:00 to 22:00

Production & Recovery of Bio-Based Chemicals

Post date: Thursday, 2 January, 2020 - 14:53

13.00 – 13:05: Welcome & Introduction - Ramon Ganigué, Ghent University
13.05 – 13.35: Mixed culture fermentation of carbohydrates - Robbert Kleerebezem, TU Delft
13.35 – 14:05: Production of medium-chain carboxylic acids from thin stillage: to granulate or not to granulate - José Carvajal-Arroyo, Ghent University
14.05 – 14.30: Influence of pH and CO2 on the production of odd-chain carboxylic acids with fermenting granular sludge - Merle de Kreuk, TU Delft
14:30 – 14:55: Bio-succinic acid from municipal solid waste: production and recovery - Korneel Rabaey, Ghent University
14.55 – 15:00: Concluding remarks
17:00:     PhD Defense: Kinetics and microbial ecology of chain elongation for production of medium-chain carboxylic acids

Event location: Coupure Campus, UGent; Room A0.1
Event date: Wednesday, 8 January, 2020 - 13:00 to 15:30

Water 4.0

Post date: Wednesday, 13 November, 2019 - 13:51

CAPTURE is honored to host prof. David Sedlak (University of California, Berkeley, USA) for a series of lectures in November 2019 on the topic 'Water 4.0', in collaboration with the SINReM and IMETE international MSc programs, organized by the International Training Centre of the UGent Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.

Prof. Sedlak is author of the game changing book Water 4.0, describing evolutions and revolutions to be expected in the water sector. He was awarded the UGent Francqui chair in 2015.

Event location: Coupure Campus, UGent
Event date: Wednesday, 13 November, 2019 - 16:00 to Wednesday, 27 November, 2019 - 18:00

How to get the most out of water data? A dialogue between academia and practice

Post date: Monday, 30 September, 2019 - 15:15

The objectives of this mini-symposium are:

  • to exchange experiences between practitioners (water authorities and industry) and researchers in the field of experimental design, data handling or treatment in the water and wastewater sector
  • to showcase success stories from practice related to the planning of measuring campaigns, data handling or treatment
  • to identify aspects where interaction between academia and industry is desirable to create added value
  • to stimulate interaction between industry and academia in view of further developments


  • Testimonials from water authorities and industry – moderated by Prof. Peter Vanrolleghem, Laval University, Canada
  • Insights from academics: “Beyond signal quality: delivering performance with bad data” – dr. Kris Villez, EAWAG, Switzerland
  • Panel discussion – moderated by Prof. Eveline Volcke, UGent, Belgium
  • Concluding insights – Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Event location: Meetingroom B0.3, Coupure Campus, UGent
Event date: Monday, 7 October, 2019 - 13:00 to 16:30

Enhancing, calibrating and validating a biofilm model for the largest Paris water resource recovery facility

Post date: Friday, 13 September, 2019 - 15:47

Peter Vanrolleghem obtained his degrees in Bio-engineering and PhD in Environmental Technologies from Ghent University (Belgium). In 1997 he became a professor there in bioprocess modelling and control in a wide range of applications (food, agriculture, wastewater).

In 2006 he immigrated in Quebec as holder of the Canada Research Chair on Water Quality Modelling. He is full professor at Université Laval’s Civil and Water Engineering Department and his research team, modelEAU, consists of 3 postdocs, 2 research assistants, 7 PhD students and 3 MSc students. His research focuses on urban wastewater systems and tackles challenges such as nutrient (removal and recovery), fate of micropollutants and emissions of greenhouse gases, by developing and using mathematical models, automated monitoring stations, process control and pilot- and full-scale experiments.

He is very active in the Water Environment Federation and the International Water Association. He is currently Member of WEF’s Board of Trustees and before that, he was member of IWA’s Board. At Université Laval he is director of its multi-disciplinary Water Research Center, CentrEau, since 2015. This has now grown into Québec Province Water Research Center, uniting nearly all Québec universities active in the water field.


Event location: Meetingroom A0.1, Coupure Campus, UGent
Event date: Monday, 7 October, 2019 - 09:00 to 10:00

Mass-balance-based experimental design and data reconciliation for wastewater treatment processes

Post date: Thursday, 12 September, 2019 - 11:34

Abstract of the doctoral research of Quan Hong Le:

In wastewater treatment plants, a lot of data are collected in view of performance monitoring, plant control, for retrofit purposes as well as for process modelling. Setting up a suitable data collection strategy and checking the reliability of the collected data are essential but complicated and time-consuming challenges. Mass balancing is one of the most common types of calculations performed by process engineers in designing a new process or analysing an existing one. However, how can we systematically use this tool to address the problem of data quality in a wastewater treatment process? In this doctoral research work, mass-balance-based data reconciliation is applied to get more out of the data collected at wastewater treatment plants, both in terms of data accuracy as well as information content.

A mass-balance-based experimental design procedure for data collection was developed to guarantee that monitoring campaigns effectively meet their goal in identifying key variables and guaranteeing the quality of collected data. The possible data collection strategies proposed by the procedure were represented in a Pareto-optimal front, which represents a trade-off between accuracy and cost. The added value and general applicability of the procedure were demonstrated in five full-scale case studies to comparing its results to the outcome from the alternative approaches from the literature.

A structured and practical procedure for the application of mass-balance-based data reconciliation, i.e., the actual reconciliation of the key variables, was set up as well. Methodological aspects of data reconciliation were tackled by comparing conventional data reconciliation based on linear mass balances to an alternative approach based on bilinear mass balances. The advantages of the latter were demonstrated, in terms of essential performance indicators, for a full-scale case study. Finally, data reconciliation was also applied to a dynamically-operated system. Overall, the results demonstrate good potential for increasing the amount of information obtained from wastewater treatment process data by applying mass-balance-based data reconciliation.

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Ir. Eveline Volcke

Event location: Aula UGent, Volderstraat in Gent
Event date: Monday, 7 October, 2019 - 17:00

Microbial Cytometry: In Silico, In Vitro, In Vivo

Post date: Tuesday, 10 September, 2019 - 10:37
  • Stefano Amalfitano (Water Research Institute, Italy); info
  • Frank Delvigne (University of Liège); info
  • Yvan Saeys (Ghent University); info

Full program can be found here

Event location: Meetingroom A0.1, Coupure Campus, UGent
Event date: Tuesday, 24 September, 2019 - 15:00 to 17:00

Machine Learning Approaches for Microbial Flow Cytometry at the Single-Cell and Community Level

Post date: Tuesday, 10 September, 2019 - 10:14

Abstract of the doctoral research of Peter Rubbens:

Bacterial communities are important for numerous essential processes and ecosystems on Earth. Due to their small sizes, advanced technologies are needed to study them. Up until the 1960s, research in microbiology was limited to the use of microscopes in combination with biochemical tests. Since then, many new technologies have become available, amongst which flow cytometry. This is a single-cell technology, that rapidly measures a number of optical properties of individual cells. When analyzed properly, it is suitable to describe microbial community diversity, dynamics and functioning.

The term machine learning covers a wide set of algorithms, heuristics or other data mining approaches that are able to automatically recognize patterns in the data that can be related to a specific task. During this research, multiple machine learning approaches were explored and developed to analyze microbial flow cytometry data, both at the level of the individual cell and the microbial community as a whole. These methods allow to automate the data analysis pipeline, increase its resolution, and potentially result in new insights concerning the biological system of study.

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Willem Waegeman & Prof. Dr. Ir. Nico Boon

Event location: Auditorium E2, Coupure links 653, 9000 Gent
Event date: Tuesday, 24 September, 2019 - 17:00

Sustainability aspects of biological nitrogen removal from manure

Post date: Monday, 9 September, 2019 - 09:54

Dissertation Supervisors:

Prof. Dr. Ir. Eveline Volcke

Event location: Auditorium E4, Coupure links 653, 9000 Gent
Event date: Tuesday, 9 July, 2019 - 17:00

Management, treatment and valorization of manure in France: Current status and research perspectives

Post date: Thursday, 5 September, 2019 - 10:19

Lecture on the occasion of the public defence of PhD candidate Luis Corbala Robles.

Event location: Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, UGent
Event date: Monday, 9 September, 2019 - 14:00


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