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Analysis of Biofilm Solid Interactions Underpinning Wastewater Treatment


Wastewater treatment (WWT) processes that use biofilms as their biocatalyst have been in use for over 100 years. Over the past few decades, a greater understanding has emerged on how biofilms can be exploited for enhanced nutrient removal and this knowledge has been translated into new technologies representing about one-third of all WWT processes in a multibillion-euro global wastewater technology market.

Despite the success of these technologies, there is significant need for enhanced efficiencies in these processes and the development of new technologies that are more energy efficient and are capable of better resource recovery from wastewater are needed. To achieve this, there is need for new mechanistic insight, in particular the interaction between biofilms and particulate organic matter in the influent wastewater. The knowledge-gap spans three key areas: (i) non-oxidative interactions, (ii) hydrolysis and (iii) bioflocculation. This research project will develop an enhanced multispecies biofilm model that better incorporates new understating of these areas. We will go significantly beyond current state of the art by first building an experimental platform that exploits recent developments in advanced imaging, nanosensors & particle-tracking to probe the fundamentals of these mechanisms. To achieve this, the platform will be uniquely based on fluorescently tagged monospecies biofilms, rather than on conventional multispecies biofilm in a first phase of the project. This work will then inform the development of new mathematical model relationships, which will be implemented in an extended multispecies model and validated against data from a pilot plant operating with conditions representative of a real WWT plant.

The transformative approach in this project will lead to a more fundamental insight into the mechanisms underpinning particle-biofilm interactions and pave the way to new application of biofilms for advanced wastewater treatment.


Net EU contribution
€ 2 496 268,00
4 Dublin

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Ireland Eastern and Midland Dublin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00