Reference : A hundred years of activated sludge: time for a rethink
Scientific journals : Article
Life sciences : Biotechnology
Life sciences : Environmental sciences & ecology
Life sciences : Microbiology
A hundred years of activated sludge: time for a rethink
Sheik, Abdul mailto [University of Luxembourg > Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) > >]
Muller, Emilie mailto [University of Luxembourg > Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) > >]
Wilmes, Paul mailto [University of Luxembourg > Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) > >]
Frontiers in Microbiology
Frontiers Research Foundation
[en] activated sludge ; wastewater microbial diversity and function ; integrated omics ; niche engineering ; sustainability and renewable resources ; energy reclamation – biodiesel and bioethanol ; nutrient recovery and fertilizers ; wastewater biorefinery column concept
[en] Biological wastewater treatment plants (BWWTPs) based on the activated sludge (AS) pro-
cess have dramatically improved worldwide water sanitation despite increased urbanization and industrialization. However, current AS-based operations are considered economically and environmentally unsustainable. In this Perspective, we discuss our current understanding of
microbial populations and their metabolic transformations in AS-based BWWTPs in view of developing more sustainable processes in the future. In particular, much has been learned over the course of the past 25 years about specialized microorganisms, which could be more comprehensively leveraged to recover energy and/or nutrients from wastewater streams. To achieve this, we propose a bottom-up design approach, focused around the concept of a “wastewater biorefinery column”, which would rely on the engineering of distinct ecological niches into a BWWTP in order to guarantee the targeted enrichment of specific organismal groups which in turn will allow the harvest of high-value resources from wastewater. This concept could be seen as a possible grand challenge to microbial ecologists and engineers alike at the centenary of the discovery of the AS process.
Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB): Eco-Systems Biology (Wilmes Group)
A Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) ATTRACT program grant to Paul Wilmes (ATTRACT/A09/03) as well as postdoctoral grants Aide à la Formation Recherche (AFR) to Abdul R. Sheik (PDR-2013-1/5748561) and Emilie E. L. Muller (PDR-2011-1/SR)

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