The impact of microbial ecology on operation of biosolids treatment trains

The impact of microbial ecology on operation of biosolids treatment trains

Project 1C

In this project, advanced microbial technologies will be employed together with pioneering approaches that combine bioanalytical tools and advanced mass spectrometry techniques to investigate which microbiological processes directly impact the properties of the biosolids during anaerobic digestion or products from the advanced transformation of biosolids, studied in Theme 2.

This will lead to an understanding of the risk associated with biosolids processing and transformation, informing projects in Theme 3.

One key foci of the research undertaken will be on assessing poor performance of anaerobic digestion during stabilisation of sewage sludge. Arguably the top issues with anaerobic digestion which can influence the activity and diversity of the microbial community is foaming, and this will be a particular focus for this project.

Other factors which will also be examined are acidification, increasing viscosity, increasing volatile fatty acid and alkalinity and low methane yield (volatile solids destruction).

This project investigates the influence of these factors on microbial populations and performance.

Our team

Andy_Ball_HS

Dist. Prof Andy Ball

Lead Chief Investigator

RMIT University

Stuart_Khan_HS

Prof Stuart Khan

Chief Investigator

University of New South Wales

Denis_OCarroll_HS

Prof Denis O'Carroll

Chief Investigator

University of New South Wales

Richard_Stuetz_HS

Prof Richard Stuetz

Chief Investigator

University of New South Wales

Leadin Khudur DSC_8085

Dr Leadin Khudur

Industry Centre Post doc

RMIT University

Christian Krohn

Christian Krohn

Industry Centre Post doc

RMIT University

IMG_9510

A/Prof Michael Burton

University of Western Australia

IMG_9458

A/Prof Thomas Wiedmann

University of New South Wales

Enhancing resource recovery through thermal/hydrothermal processing

Enhancing resource recovery through thermal/hydrothermal processing

Project 1B

Currently, there is no broadly applicable, non-agricultural beneficial use option for biosolids. Incineration dissipates the nitrogen, fixes the phosphorus, is generally energy negative, and has nil community support. Landfill is unsustainable and extremely expensive.

This project will investigate new thermal and chemical technologies such as pyrolysis, gasification and hydrothermal liquefaction (through an ICPD) to effectively capture chemical and energy resources, leading to development of a zero-waste processing route.  The aim will be to develop a comprehensive technology assessment tool that can assist water industries in selecting thermal/hydrothermal technology for regional and urban settings.

The HDR projects will specifically investigate hydrothermal liquefaction, pyrolysis and gasification as key future technology options.  The HDR projects will focus on:

  1. Identification of optimum process conditions for producing high-value products for hydrothermal processing, and
  2. Investigation of the fate of nutrients mainly in the solids and aqueous streams in thermochemical processing such as pyrolysis, gasification and hydrothermal liquefaction.

Our team

Kalpit 2021 (2)

A/Prof Kalpit Shah

Lead Chief Investigator

RMIT University

Damien_Batstone_HS

Prof Damien Batstone

Chief Investigator

University of Queensland

Savan

Dr Savankumar Patel

Industry Centre Post doc

RMIT University

IMG_9458

A/Prof Thomas Wiedmann

University of New South Wales

Novel biosolids processing routes for next generation, high quality products

Novel biosolids processing routes for next generation, high quality products

Project 1A

The agricultural application of biosolids is likely to remain a major beneficial use option. The major risk is the presence of odour, heavy metals, micro-plastics, emerging contaminants, drugs and pesticides that pose a risk to adoption. Also, biosolids are bulky in nature, have very high moisture content and are difficult to dewater.

Research is needed to reduce the (currently) high transportation costs, high diesel consumption, and related carbon dioxide emissions. Industries are actively looking for alternative technologies that can reduce biosolid volume as well minimise/eliminate undesirable characteristics.

The project will focus on:

  1. Developing low cost, innovative biological and additive drying, hydrolysis and pyrolysis technologies with/without blending with other organic food or meat industry waste streams, and
  2. Characterising and determining transformations that occur during biological and additive drying, hydrolysis and pyrolysis in the inert fractions contributed from both primary and activated sludges, with an aim to produce high quality next generation products for agriculture applications.

The ICPD working on this project will perform experimental investigations and detailed techno-economic comparison of biological and additive drying, hydrolysis and pyrolysis technologies.

Our team

Damien_Batstone_HS

Prof Damien Batstone

Lead Chief Investigator
University of Queensland

Andy_Ball_HS

Dist. Prof Andy Ball

Chief Investigator
RMIT University

Anas_Ghadouani_HS

Prof Anas Ghadouani

Chief Investigator
University of Western Australia