Biotransformaciones (Co)metabólicas de microcontaminantes orgánicos en reactores de baja huella ambiental para el tratamiento de aguas residuales (COMETT)
Some of important issues to be addressed in innovative wastewater treatment (WWT) are the removal of organic micropollutants (OMPs), excessive biomass production, high energy consumption, emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), etc. In this sense, the applicant group has developed different innovative wastewater technologies such as the SIAM and SIAL concepts (project HOLSIA, CTM2013-46750-R), especially suitable for most of those objectives. Among other results, those projects showed that the removal of OMPs could be significantly enhanced with the combination of different redox environments and operational conditions. Although there are already some evidences about the possible enzymes responsible for biochemical reactions depending on the OMP chemical structure and the environmental conditions, it still remains to be determined the active (co)metabolic mechanisms.
The COMETT proposal aims at advancing at a scientific and a technological level, by combining excellence and knowledge transfer in a singular approach. First, the low environmental footprint SIAL technology will be optimized and validated for the treatment of real wastewater under different sulphur content scenarios. One of the most relevant issues of SIAL is the use of methane for denitrification, which comprises a very complex microbiology (aerobic methanotrophs, nitrite/nitrate dependant anaerobic methane oxidizing N-DAMO bacteria/archaea, etc.). From the set of unit processes behind this concept, the most innovative will be further studied in terms of kinetics and stoichiometry. This technology, which comprises the main different environments existing in WWT plants, provides results easily extrapolated to the design or upgrade of other innovative water technologies, making the impact of the results much broader.
The awareness about the emission of OMPs and GHGs has been publically recognized by regulators and society. Even though, the OMP removal efficiencies reported vary in a wide range (e.g. diclofenac) being some compounds very persistent (e.g. carbamazepine). This underlines that research on this topic advanced more in studying the fate and behaviour of OMPs during WWT than on understanding deeper the mechanisms that are behind the overall removal. Based on that, COMETT plans specific tasks devoted to understanding the metabolic and cometabolic processes responsible for OMPs biotransformations. For that purpose, a set of lab-scale reactors reproducing the main biological processes of SIAL will be operated to study the relationship between the metabolic primary processes and the OMPs biotransformation rates. COMETT goes even one step further by identifying the target enzymatic activities catalyzing OMPs biotranformations.
Micropollutants removal under heterotrophic conditions from BioGroup-USC on Vimeo.