Project definition and expected results

Quick information

Project objectives

The overreaching objective of the RECYCLES project is to form an international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral networking of organizations working on a joint research to favour the exploitation of biological processes, merging carbon, nitrogen and sulphur cycles, in integrated liquid and gaseous effluent treatment and resource recovery. To increase the technical, economic and environmental viability of waste treatment facilities such as municipal solid waste treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants or landfills, RECYCLES’ aim is to drive carbon to biogas production as a carbon sink instead of classical aerobic oxidation processes, coupled to the development of innovative biological technologies and treatment trains that integrate the carbon, nitrogen and sulphur cycles, while favouring at the same time resource recovery. Advances in the design of innovative bioreactors and their integration in optimized, novel treatment trains will have potential market opportunities for non-academic participants while benefiting the European society in a more sustainable way.

The strategy will be to combine interdisciplinary approaches to:

  • Investigate innovative unit processes based on partial nitrification for nitrogen recycle, autotrophic denitrification for biosulphur recovery and multienzyme-based bioreactors for CO2
  • Apply technologies that are novel in this field such as moving bed bioreactors, membrane biofilm reactors and enzymatic reactors.
  • Combine biological processes into innovative treatment trains for wastewater treatment and biogas upgrading.

Figure 1 shows how the RECYCLES project is structured to use and develop a range of satellite tools such as monitoring, modelling and molecular biology tools to acquire important knowledge for the development of novel and robust bioreactor configurations to further improve and optimize existing treatment trains for integral wastewater and biogas treatment considering resource recovery.

The project is interdisciplinary and intersectoral. In fact, the research teams involved include environmental and chemical engineers, biologists and bioinformatics and mathematical modellers, while the companies are complementary being specialised in reactors design and construction and in bioprocess design and control. Finally, the involvement of the industry will allow to receive feedbacks on the solutions needed from pilot case studies using real effluents and to effectively translate novel scientific outcomes into suitable technologies.

Expected results

  • The development of innovative bioreactors for the combined removal of nitrogen and sulphur from both liquid and gaseous effluents.
  • Technologies based on the application of immobilized enzymes for biogas upgrading and products recovery.
  • Solutions for biofilm growth control in membrane biofilm reactors and biotrickling filters.
  • The development of a Decision Support Tool for the suitable integration (technical, economic and environmental) of biological processes for biogas upgrading and wastewater treatment to simultaneously remove carbon, nitrogen and reduced sulphur compounds while considering resource recovery.
  • Proof of the integration of the treatment of mainstream tannery wastewater, biogas desulfurization and formate recovery from adsorbed CO2 from biogas at pilot-scale.
  • Creation of a mid-to-long term plan for the academic and non-academic exploitation of the RECYCLES outcomes.
  • Increase the confidence on biological processes for wastewater and gas treatment from public audience by properly communicating the action, disseminating and transferring the knowledge acquired.