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Environmental Engineering, completed December 2008


Research: Unraveling the syntrophic acetate oxidizing bacteria in anaerobic digesters treating swine waste.

The overall goal of the proposed study was to improve stability of farm-based anaerobic digestion treating swine waste.  The supporting objectives were: 1.  to perform hypothesis-driven research to understand the role of syntrophic bacteria in anaerobic digestion stability; 2.  to develop innovative techniques, which will be used to study the syntrophic bacteria in anaerobic digestion systems ; and 3.  to validate results with full-scale systems.  To improve the stability of anaerobic digesters a mechanistic understanding of the microbial population dynamics is required and such information can only be found when utilizing culture-independent molecular biology techniques to classify and quantify syntrophic bacteria.  Lab-scale anaerobic sequencing batch reactor (ASBR), serum bottle, and micro-bioreactor systems were operated to ascertain if syntrophic bacteria are below a critical threshold or too sensitive to perturbations for a stable operation of anaerobic digesters treating swine waste at high-ammonia-N levels.

Placement: Assistant Professor, University of Sao Paulo, Rio Claro, Brazil.