Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Grant recipient:
Professor Per Halkjær Nielsen, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University

Project title:
Recovery of extracellular polymers from wastewater treatment residuals as a new circular biopolymer (REThiNk)

Co-applicants:
Thomas Seviour, Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering and Centre for Water Technology (WATEC), Aarhus University

Mark van Loosdrecht, Environmental Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology

Morten Kam Dahl Dueholm, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University

Brief description:
Activated sludge is the most widely used biological treatment process for wastewater, and it produces >10% of all biowaste in the western world. We present a new strategy for turning these biosolids into valuable biopolymers via extraction of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that are secreted from bacteria in the activated sludge. The EPS has high intrinsic value and can be recycled into new sustainable biomaterials and replace oil-based polymers. There is a lack of understanding of the microorganisms that produce the EPS and their relevant properties. We will establish a predictive model for declaration of extracted EPS by linking the bacterial physiology, overall community composition, and properties of extracted EPS. The EPS will be formulated into biomaterials and create an entry point for activated sludge into the global biopolymer market, with the goal to develop a new resource recovery strategy and increase the sustainability and profitability of wastewater treatment.

Per Halkjær Nielsen is receiving DKK 54,829,600 for the project.