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The environmental impact of biofuel production: functional bio-indicators for sustainable and optimal biofuel production

Grant number: 12/51496-3
Support type:Program for Research on Bioenergy (BIOEN) - Regular Program Grants
Duration: February 01, 2014 - January 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Sanitary Engineering
Cooperation agreement: BE-BASIC Consortium
Principal Investigator:Flávia Talarico Saia
Grantee:Flávia Talarico Saia
Principal investigator abroad: Alette Langenhoff
Institution abroad: Wageningen University, Netherlands
Home Institution: Instituto de Saúde e Sociedade (ISS). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Baixada Santista. Santos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Alternative energy sources are becoming more and more important, and hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4) production from biomass and residues are options for renewable energy. Currently, research is focused on optimization of H2 and CH4 production from vinasse, the liquid residue left in the distillation of ethanol from sugar-cane derivates. Due to its high biochemical oxygen demand (17,000 to 50,000 mg/l), vinasse has the potential to be converted into renewable energy. However, gaps related to the process, e.g. configuration, operation and stability of reactors and limited knowledge of the involved microbiota need to be overcome in order to evaluate the potential application of anaerobic technology for the treatment of vinasse and bioenergy production. Furthermore, the production of sugar-cane involves the use of pesticides which can interfere in the anaerobic treatment of vinasse as well as being harmful for the environment In addition, the used pesticides can either remain in the environment, causing environmental problems, or transform into harmless compounds. The work proposed in this project will address the effect of pesticides on H2 and CH4 production from vinasse. In addition, molecular tools such as qPCR assays will be developed to monitor the key players. This project will be related with a recently approved Fapesp project (12/17002-3). We will use vinasse from a different sugar-cane e mill in order to evaluate the use of pesticides on anaerobic treatment of vinasse under thermophilic conditions. Biodegradation tests will be performed, to identify the biodegradation potential for the used pesticides in the environment. Finally, the biodiversity in soil systems at sugarcane production sites that have received pesticides will be studied. Both geochip and qPCR assays will be used to monitor indicator species in the contaminated soil. This is in line with the strategy that will be used for the relation between biodiversity and eutrophication in a BE-Basic project (AU)

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