Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

The ANTARES project begins on the transformation and elimination of antibiotics in waste water with emerging technologies

Tuesday, 01 September 2020

Last June, ICRA started the ANTARES project, a new research project on the “Integrated analysis of the development of antibiotic resistance and the biotransformation routes of micropollutants in innovative waste water treatment technologies “.

This is a project coordinated between the University of Santiago de Compostela and the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA) and financed by the Ministry of Science and Innovation of the Spanish Government, with a total budget of 365,000 euros and which will remain until May 2023. In this project, an ICRA research team, led by the Dr. Jelena Radjenovic and the Dr. Maite Pijuan, will investigate the enhancement of anaerobic degradation of persistent pollutants in the presence of biologically reduced graphene oxide (bioRGO).

New anaerobic wastewater treatment technologies, such as the anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR), offer several advantages over aerobic sludge systems, for example, energy savings, biogas production, resource recovery, lower production of sludges and ability to degrade persistent pollutants to aerobic degradation. However, anaerobic processes are characterized by long start-up periods, low elimination rates and susceptibility to disturbances due to organic overload, which are a consequence of the slow transfer of electrons between species (Interspecies Electron Transfer, IET) between fermenting bacteria and methanogenic archaea. The addition of non-biological conductive materials, such as granular activated carbon (CAG), is known to accelerate methanogenesis due to the adhesion of bacteria to the surface of the CAG, which is used for the exchange of electrons The addition of bioRGO improves the direct ETI due to the gelation and secretion of the redox active species by the microorganisms. The addition of bioRGO to an anaerobic community will be investigated using batch biochemical methane potential (BMP) assays and in a pilot-scale anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR). bioRGO is expected to stimulate flocculation of anaerobic sludges and thus reduce membrane fouling.