10.4 Development of new biological desulfurization processing schemes

In the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy, sulfur will become a scarce resource. Currently, the worldwide sulfur market is determined by the recovery of sulfur as a byproduct when oil and gas is extracted. This project focuses on integrated processes for removal of H2S from sour (bio)gas streams and conversion into reusable elemental sulfur using a community of chemo lithotrophic sulfide oxidizing bacteria (SOB). The biologically produced elemental sulfur is recovered as crystals and has hydrophilic properties. This biosulfur is distinctively different when compared to chemically produced sulfur and can be beneficial for reuse in e.g. agricultural applications.

Research challenge
A challenge in biological S conversion is the unwanted production of sulfate instead of sulfur. Recently, it has been found that SOB have a charge shuttling capacity, where they are able to remove sulfide under anaerobic conditions and can reduce oxygen under sulfide free conditions. This shuttling capacity is stimulated when SOB are grown under alternating conditions, i.e. “anaerobic-sulfide rich” and “aerobic–sulfide free”. This capacity has the potential to optimize the recovery efficiency of elemental sulfur. This project focusses on new process schemes for the operation of the biological sulfur process. These schemes should be scalable and controllable. For this reason, a combined experimental and theoretical underpinning approach is required.

We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in the field of biotechnology, environmental technology, chemical technology or related field. The candidate must have affinity with performing experimental work, and able to independently operate test installations.

We are looking for a candidate, who
· has the ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team;
· has affinity with biotechnological processes;
· is precise and dedicated to perform accurate experiments and calculations;
· has a strong interest in theoretical substantiating experimental results;
· can communicate the results in writing, presentations and discussions.

The research project is part of the Wetsus research theme Sulfur.
The following companies are part of the theme: Paqell, Paques & Shell.

Promotor: Cees Buisman (Wageningen University, Environmental Technology)
Co-promotor: Karel Keesman (Mathematical and Statistical Methods - Biometris)
Wetsus supervisor: Dr. Jan Klok

Wetsus, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

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