The research focus of the Process Engineering Department (ENG) ranges from current and future wastewater and drinking water treatment problems, as well as water pollution control and resource reuse. Our long-term goal is to develop sustainable concepts of the water and nutrient cycle in residential areas.
Circular economy also holds great potential when it comes to wastewater. At NEST, Eawag is conducting research on decentralized wastewater treatment with the aim to use wastewater as a source of nutrients, energy and water. Important partners are Keramik Laufen AG with the urine separation toilet "Save!" and the Eawag Spin-off Vuna with the liquid fertilizer made of urine "Aurin".
Process Engineer Adriano Joss from Eawag water research institute has been working for many years on wastewater treatment plants and the removal of micropollutants from water. Together with Ralf Kägi, Head of the Eawag Particle Laboratory, he has compiled the current status of knowledge on microplastics. In an interview, he presents the most important findings. We have recently posted detailed information on the website “Microplastics in the environment”.
Gravity-driven membrane filtration for water and wastewater treatment: a review
Gravity-driven membrane (GDM) filtration has been investigated for almost 10 years. The technology is characterized not only by relatively lower transmembrane pressures which can be achieved by gravity (extremely low energy consumption), but also by the phenomenon of flux stabilization: A biofilm is allowed to form on the membrane and a stabilization of flux occurs which is related to biological processes within the biofilm layer on the membrane. This enables stable operation during a year or longer without any cleaning or flushing. Initially, the technology was developed mainly for household drinking water treatment, but in the meantime, the research and application has expanded to the treatment of greywater, rainwater, and wastewater as well as the pretreatment of seawater for desalination. This review covers the field from the rather fundamental research on biofilm morphology and microbial community analysis to the impact of feedwater composition, process parameters and organic removal performance. Not only household applications, but also for community-scale treatment and full-scale applications are discussed. In addition, the application potential is highlighted in comparison to conventional ultrafiltration. Finally, an overall assessment is illustrated and the research and development needs are identified.
Extracellular polymeric substances of biofilms: suffering from an identity crisis
Microbial biofilms can be both cause and cure to a range of emerging societal problems including antimicrobial tolerance, water sanitation, water scarcity and pollution. The identities of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) responsible for the establishment and function of biofilms are poorly understood. The lack of information on the chemical and physical identities of EPS limits the potential to rationally engineer biofilm processes, and impedes progress within the water and wastewater sector towards a circular economy and resource recovery. Here, a multidisciplinary roadmap for addressing this EPS identity crisis is proposed. This involves improved EPS extraction and characterization methodologies, cross-referencing between model biofilms and full-scale biofilm systems, and functional description of isolated EPS with in situ techniques (e.g. microscopy) coupled with genomics, proteomics and glycomics. The current extraction and spectrophotometric characterization methods, often based on the principle not to compromise the integrity of the microbial cells, should be critically assessed, and more comprehensive methods for recovery and characterization of EPS need to be developed.
Seviour, T.; Derlon, N.; Simonsen Dueholm, M.; Flemming, H.-C.; Girbal-Neuhauser, E.; Horn, H.; Kjelleberg, S.; van Loosdrecht, M. C. M.; Lotti, T.; Malpei, M. F.; Nerenberg, R.; Neu, T. R.; Paul, E.; Yu, H.; Lin, Y. (2019) Extracellular polymeric substances of biofilms: suffering from an identity crisis, Water Research, 151, 1-7, doi:10.1016/j.watres.2018.11.020, Institutional Repository
Aktivkohle - Made in Switzerland!
Die Elimination von Mikroverunreinigungen in der Abwasserreinigung mit Aktivkohle oder Ozon ist eine wichtige Massnahme zum vorbeugenden Schutz der Gewässer und der Trinkwasserressourcen der Schweiz. Während der Einsatz von Ozon mit einem hohen Energieverbrauch einhergeht, führt der Einsatz von Aktivkohle andernorts zu negativen Umweltauswirkungen, da die Aktivkohle zum Teil aus fossilen Ausgangsstoffen wie Stein- oder Braunkohle hergestellt und zudem über weite Strecken transportiert wird. Aktivkohlen mit sehr guten Eliminationsleistungen könnten aber auch in der Schweiz aus einheimischen erneuerbaren Roh- und Reststoffen hergestellt werden.
Hagemann, N.; Bucheli, T. D.; Schmidt, H.-P.; Kägi, R.; Böhler, M.; McArdell, C. S. (2019) Aktivkohle - Made in Switzerland!, Aqua & Gas, 99(1), 32-38, Institutional Repository
A framework for good biofilm reactor modeling practice (GBRMP)
A researcher or practitioner can employ a biofilm model to gain insight into what controls the performance of a biofilm process and for optimizing its performance. While a wide range of biofilmmodeling platforms is available, a good strategy is to choose the simplest model that includes sufficient components and processes to address the modeling goal. In most cases, a onedimensional biofilm model provides the best balance, and good choices can range from handcalculation analytical solutions, simple spreadsheets, and numerical-method platforms. What is missing today is clear guidance on how to apply a biofilm model to obtain accurate and meaningful results. Here, we present a five-step framework for good biofilm reactor modeling practice (GBRMP). The first four steps are (1) obtain information on the biofilm reactor system, (2) characterize the influent, (3) choose the plant and biofilm model, and (4) define the conversion processes. Each step demands that the model user understands the important components and processes in the system, one of the main benefits of doing biofilm modeling. The fifth step is to calibrate and validate the model: System-specific model parameters are adjusted within reasonable ranges so that model outputs match actual system performance. Calibration is not a simple 'by the numbers' process, and it requires that the modeler follows a logical hierarchy of steps. Calibration requires that the adjusted parameters remain within realistic ranges and that the calibration process be carried out in an iterative manner. Once each of steps 1 through 5 is completed satisfactorily, the calibrated model can be used for its intended purpose, such as optimizing performance, trouble-shooting poor performance, or gaining deeper understanding of what controls process performance.
Rittmann, B. E.; Boltz, J. P.; Brockmann, D.; Daigger, G. T.; Morgenroth, E.; Helleshøj Sørensen, K.; Takács, I.; van Loosdrecht, M.; Vanrolleghem, P. A. (2018) A framework for good biofilm reactor modeling practice (GBRMP), Water Science and Technology, 77(5), 1149-1164, doi:10.2166/wst.2018.021, Institutional Repository