Microbes are amazingly diverse in terms of the biochemical reactions that they catalyze. This diversity can be used to create competitive biotechnological solutions to many environmental challenges. Indeed, the right combination of existing microbial reactions can usually be found to convert any unwanted pollutant into a useful or harmless end-product. There are, however, scientific and technical challenges in order to combine potentially useful microbial reactions into a workable biotechnology: A case in point is the autotrophic conversion of reduced ammonia (NH4+-N) to N2: a process which requires the cooperation between microbial groups with very different kinetics, substrate preferences, and redox requirements. We contend that biofilm-based systems, wherein microbes grow attached to surfaces, are suitable to harness these microbial potentials. In this project, we specifically aim to develop, apply and validate generic tools for the management of the microbial composition and the micro-scale structure of biofilms (micro2-management) with redox zonation. As an example, these tools will be implemented for the rapid start-up and high-rate long-term performance of membrane-supported biofilm-based reactors for autotrophic N removal.
|Effective start/end date||01/09/2009 → 31/08/2012|