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Cold Carbon Catabolism of Microbial Communities underprinning a Sustainable Bioenergy and Biorefinery Economy


The applicant will collaborate with Irish, European and U.S.-based colleagues to develop a sustainable biorefinery and bioenergy industry in Ireland and Europe. The focus of this ERC Starting Grant will be the application of classical microbiological, physiological and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assays, to qualitatively and quantitatively characterize microbial communities underpinning novel and innovative, low-temperature, anaerobic waste (and other biomass) conversion technologies, including municipal wastewater treatment and, demonstration- and full-scale biorefinery applications.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a naturally-occurring process, which is widely applied for the conversion of waste to methane-containing biogas. Low-temperature (<20 degrees C) AD has been applied by the applicant as a cost-effective alternative to mesophilic (c. 35C) AD for the treatment of several waste categories. However, the microbiology of low-temperature AD is poorly understood. The applicant will work with microbial consortia isolated from anaerobic bioreactors, which have been operated for long-term experiments (>3.5 years), and include organic acid-oxidizing, hydrogen-producing syntrophic microbes and hydrogen-consuming methanogens. A major focus of the project will be the ecophysiology of psychrotolerant and psychrophilic methanogens already identified and cultivated by the applicant. The project will also investigate the role(s) of poorly-understood Crenarchaeota populations and homoacetogenic bacteria, in complex consortia. The host organization is a leading player in the microbiology of waste-to-energy applications. The applicant will train a team of scientists in all aspects of the microbiology and bioengineering of biomass conversion systems.

Call for proposal

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University road
H91 Galway

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Ireland Northern and Western West
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Mari Vahey (Ms.)
Principal investigator
Gavin James Collins (Dr.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)