10.2 Phosphate recovery in combination with Kaumera (EPS) extraction from aerobic granular sludge

Aerobic granular sludge waste water treatment is a fast emerging novel technology for sewage treatment. It not only has the advantage of lower investment costs, energy use and a small footprint, but it is also possible to extract a gel-like material (Kaumera) from the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that hold the aerobic granules together. Dutch water authorities have already realized a demonstration facility for this extraction process. There are also opportunities to combine this extraction with recovery of the phosphate that is accumulated in the granules during the sewage treatment process.

Research Challenge
A combination of Kaumera extraction and phosphate recovery requires a better understanding of phosphate accumulation processes in the granule and ways to stimulate or influence these processes. Phosphate accumulation in the granule should preferably take place in such a way that a good synergy is reached with the process conditions for extraction that benefit both phosphate and Kaumera recovery. Based on a thorough understanding of the phosphate accumulation processes in the granule and interactions with the EPS, recovery strategies should be proposed and tested at lab scale. The best strategy will possibly be implemented in a pilot facility towards the end of the project.

We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in the field of biotechnology with an interest in inorganic chemistry, or a related field of study. We require you to use a thorough and critical understanding of the (bio)chemistry to propose practical approaches to the problem. Your social skills and curiosity make it possible for you to benefit from the multi-disciplinary environment to find creative, new approaches to the research challenge. You are able to work independently.
The PhD student will be based at Wetsus in Leeuwarden and co-supervised by TU Delft.

The research project is part of a large EU project Water Mining with a large number of partners. The Water Mining project has the objective to recover resources from municipal and industrial waste water. Within Wetsus the project will be part of the Wetsus research theme “Phosphate Recovery”.

The following companies are part of the theme:
Waterschap Brabantse Delta, Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg, Kemira, Aquacare, VandCenter Syd

Promotor: Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht (Delft University of Technology)
Wetsus supervisor: Dr. Leon Korving

Wetsus, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

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