Innovative combination of MEMbrane technology and BIOlogical filtration for water purification (MEM2BIO)

MEM2BIO brings together three research institutions (GEUS, AU, AAU), two waterworks and two companies to develop much-needed water treatment biotechnologies for removing pesticides and chlorinated solvents from contaminated drinking water resources.

The idea is to combine membrane separation and microbial degradation in sand filters as a new technology to remediate polluted drinking water. The membrane filtration produces clean drinking water, but also residual water with high pollutant concentrations. This residual water will then be treated in a biological filter added specific pesticide degrading bacteria, including the BAM degrading Aminobacter sp. MSH1 and the phenoxy acid herbicide degrading Pseudomonas sp. PM1. The membranes will be designed to also concentrate nutrients, thereby stimulating degrading bacteria in the sand filter. Native ammonium oxidising bacteria in the filter will also be stimulated as these bacteria are known to degrade chlorinated solvents.

Specific aims of MEM2BIO include to 1) optimise the membrane technology to produce low volumes of highly concentrated residual water, 2) design membranes to produce concentrated water with an optimal combination of nutrients (N, P and organic C) providing the best conditions for biodegradation, 3) optimize the survival of introduced degrader bacteria and improve their degradation efficiency, 4) combine new ecological approaches with state-of- the-art molecular techniques to predict ecosystem function and its ability to accept the introduction of a new degrader bacterium, and to test how we can manage and steer the microbial communities to most efficiently degrade the contaminants, and 5) transfer the developed technologies from laboratory scale experiments to large scale demonstration.

Research at AU will be focused on the biological processes and organisms in the biofilters, to optimize their survival and efficiency. This will be done using DNA sequencing technologies to study e.g. biofilm formation and effects of environmental stresses. The project started 1. March 2016 and will run for 4 years. Besides Lars Hestbjerg Hansen & Lea Ellegaard-Jensen, Ole Hylling will be working on MEM2BIO as a PhD student.