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New perspectives for biogas production: in situ biomethanation coupled with pulp and paper wastewater treatment in anaerobic reactor for carbon footprint reduction

Grant number: 23/10798-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2023
Effective date (End): July 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Sanitary Engineering - Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment
Principal Investigator:Maria Bernadete Amâncio Varesche
Grantee:Caroline Varella Rodrigues
Supervisor: Marcell Nikolausz
Host Institution: Escola de Engenharia de São Carlos (EESC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Research place: Helmholtz Association, Germany  
Associated to the scholarship:20/15988-5 - Biorefinery applied to the management of coffee processing residues co-digested in industrial wastes for the generation of biogas, BP.PD


The pulp and paper industry is energy intensive and produces a significant amount of wastewater that should be treated in specific plants before being released to the environment. A considerable amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is associated directly and indirectly to various parts of this industrial production. Innovative solutions for wastewater treatment in this sector offer an advantage by allowing the recovery of energy content in the form of methane gas (CH4) via anaerobic digestion processes, making it an attractive method for this sector. Recently, new approaches to anaerobic treatments aiming at higher biogas generation yields have increased the prospects for their use in this sector. Research groups have studied new ways to increase CH4 production in situ biomethanation through the addition of H2. Therefore, the objective of this project consists of the operation of continuous EGSB (Expanded Granular Sludge Blanket) reactors through the direct injection of H2, treating the wastewater from pulp and paper mill, aiming to increase the generation of CH4 with the concomitant reduction of CO2. For this, the best condition will be studied to enhance the activity of hydrogenotrophic methanogenic archaea that will play the role of using H2 as an electron donor for the reduction of CO2 to CH4. Concomitant to the production of CH4, the rates of removal of organic matter from the liquid wastewater coming from a paper company will also be evaluated. Therefore, a deep understanding of the fundamentals of in situ biomethanation processes is expected to enable the efficient exploitation of the methanogenic archaea metabolism, opening new perspectives to simultaneously meet the need for wastewater treatment with the growing demand for clean and sustainable energy. (AU)

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