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Towards Zero Impact Agriculture: bio-NAno architecTUres for ammonia REcovery - NATURE

Grant number: 23/07992-0
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: February 01, 2024 - January 31, 2026
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry
Convênio/Acordo: National Research Council of Italy (CNR)
Principal Investigator:Adalgisa Rodrigues de Andrade
Grantee:Adalgisa Rodrigues de Andrade
Principal researcher abroad: Chiara Ingrosso
Institution abroad: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Italy
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers: Elisabetta Fanizza ; Jefferson Honorio Franco ; Juliana Cancino Bernardi ; María Eugenia Guazzaroni ; Maria Lucia CURRI ; Massimo Trotta ; Matteo Grattieri ; Paolo Stufano ; Valeria Reginatto Spiller


The use of non-renewable fossil-fuel resources is limiting global economic development. In this context, a group of Brazilian and Italian researchers got together to propose the treatment of wastewater from olive mill wastewater (OMW) accounting for 50% of Italian production, and the vinasse wastewater from sugar cane production from Brazil agroindustry. Both disposal wastewaters are critical for their content of pollutant species such as high content of organic matter and nitrogen. This characteristic could be used for the development of bioelectrochemical systems (BES) allowing the conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy for power generation, making valorization, and economically beneficial. Bacteria are of particular interest as biocatalysts in BES due to their metabolic versatility to obtain biohybrid devices for the synthesis of valuable chemicals such as ammonia (NH3), one of the largest-volume commercial N fertilizers and help an important agroindustrial sector towards Zero Impact Agriculture. One way to recover ammonium from WW in BES is to oxidize organic matter at the bioanode side in an MFC with simultaneous migration of NH4+ to the anode onto the cathode compartment. There the NH3 can be recovered by stripping at high pHs. Thus, cleaned WW, energy, and ammonia as value-added compounds can be obtained at the MFC device. Current densities and power generation in these biohybrid devices are greatly influenced by electrode design and catalyst material properties, and hence, great affords have been focused on suitably engineering them. This project will focus on both biotic and abiotic electrodes. Graphene and its composites with metal (Ag) nanoparticles (NPs) have been demonstrated to reduce charge-transfer resistance, enhance electrocatalytic activity and power generation. Furthermore, the coupling of metal NPs with intact bacterial cells has been recently reported, allowing high current densities, and paving the way to the implementation of these materials in bioelectrosynthetic systems. On the cathodic side it will investigate inorganic transition metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs). NATURE will focus on the development of a carbon-neutral and sustainable lab-scale prototype of a bioelectrocatalytic hybrid device, integrating a bioanode made of hybrid interphase formed of an Ag NPs decorated graphene hybrid nanocomposite modified by heterotrophic bacteria consortia and photosynthetic bacteria as biocatalysts. In such a device, the generation of biophotocurrents at the bioanode, by oxidation of organic matter contained in wastewater. At I year of NATURE, Italian and Brazilian Teams will be focused on developing the biotic anode and the abiotic cathode. At the II year of Nature, the partners will exchange the electrocatalysts optimized for the biotic anode by CNR&UNIBA, and for the abiotic cathode by UPS, for fabricating a lab-scale prototype of the biohybrid device and assessing its operation for NH3 recover from real WW samples originating from production of olive oil, from Apulia region, and sugarcane from Ribeirão Preto area. Additionally, UNIBA will share its expertise on how to operate the upgraded biotic anode with the modified bacteria for biophotocurrent generation, with USP. Within the first and second year of NATURE, four visits (7 days) to the respective foreign Institutions are planned. Regularly organized online meetings are planned during both the years of NATURE for monitoring project progress. (AU)

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