Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - ABIOS (Advanced study on biofilm systems in water and wastewater treatment)

Researchers at the Environmental Engineering Laboratories (EEL), National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, created three low energy biofilm technologies for the biological processing of substrates. To fundamentally understand and optimise these technologies, a Marie Curie transfer of knowledge (ToK) project, namely ABIOS; FP6-14432, was funded by the European Commission. The overall objectives of the ABIOS ToK project were to:

1. increase understanding of biofilm behaviour
2. develop new efficient environmental technologies to process substrates
3. increase research funding
4. build on NUI Galway's research links in the European Union, United States of America and Asia.

The five specific tasks in the project, elaborated with incoming experienced researchers (ERs), were as follows:

1. The establishment of physical biofilm systems for treating wastewaters. Three NUI Galway low-energy biofilm technologies for removing organic carbon and nutrients, namely nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), from wastewater were ready when the ERs arrived. These technologies included the vertical moving biofilm reactor (VMBR) for efficient bio-processing (refer to Rodgers et al., 2005(3); 2004 (3); 2003(3); 2002; 2001; 1999), the pumped flow biofilm reactor (PFBR) for villages and towns (as described by Wu et al., 2009 (2); Rodgers et al., 2009; Rodgers et al., 2008 (2); O'Reilly et al., 2008) and the horizontal flow biofilm reactor (HFBR) for single house and small flows (Rodgers and Clifford, 2009; Clifford et al., 2008; Rodgers et al., 2008; Rodgers et al., 2007; Xiao et al., 2007; Rodgers et al., 2006 (2)). They were developed and proven in the laboratory and, by the time of the project completion, were proven at pilot scale and commercialised.
2. Examining biofilm ecology using molecular methods, performed by the ERs Dr Sorensen, who worked for 13 months and Dr Elliot, for 11 months. A molecular techniques laboratory was established in the EEL. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) techniques were used to examine the biofilms in the various VMBR, PFBR and HFBR reactors by the ERs and EEL researchers, all of whom received instruction in the techniques. This development enhanced the research work on the biofilm technologies (refer to Wu et al., 2009 (2); Rodgers and Wu, 2009).
3. Measuring biofilm chemical components using microsensor methods, performed by the ER Dr Nielsen during 24 months. A microsensor laboratory was established and the techniques were used in examining the PFBR and HFBR reactors (Wu et al., 2009). All EEL researchers were instructed in the techniques, which were used in three ongoing projects. Dr Nielsen successfully applied for funding to Enterprise Ireland (EI) to develop a biochemical oxygen demand sensor, which was in the course of commericalisation by the time of the project completion.
4. Mathematical modelling of the biofilms, performed by the ER Dr Rafal Urban, which lasted 16 M months. Dr. Urban instructed all the EEL researchers on mathematical models for wastewater treatment systems, including the HFBR and PFBR systems. Some of the EEL researchers continued to use these models after the task completion. Dr Urban successfully applied for funding to Enterprise Ireland (EI) to develop his own modelling software, which he was hoping to commercialise.
5. Syntheses of high value products, by the ER Dr Zhenhu Hu, which lasted for 19 months. Dr Hu instructed all the EEL researchers in laboratory techniques for the conversion of local maize and miscanthus to products for energy generation, using local high pH waste material from the aluminium industry to cheaply hydrolyse the biomass. He set up the necessary protocols and equipment for biomass processing and published one journal paper (Hu et al.).

Overall, the objectives in the project were achieved as more of the biofilm research became fundamental, the current research funding was about 5 million, an onsite water research facility, of 0.75 million value, was built to exploit new technologies, and links were strengthened with international institutions, e.g. Virginia Tech, Montana State University, Cranfield University, Tsinghua University, Arhus University and Singapore University. The incoming ERs gained experience and skills in the growing field of wastewater treatment.

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