Project #4900

Unlocking the Potential of Mixed-Microbial Fermentation for Enhancing Carbonaceous Resource Recovery from organic "Wastes"

In Progress
Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Mr. Ashwin Dhanasekar
Columbia University
Energy Optimization
Microbes & Pathogens
Resource Recovery
Anaerobic Digestion
Biological Nutrient Removal


Recovery of commodity materials from wastewater is a key function of water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) of the future, in which wastewater treatment is coupled with recovery of products that have value in secondary markets. Carbon recovery in the form of biosolids and methane in biogas has been practiced for many years at WRRFs, but there are also other carbon recovery opportunities. Short and medium chain fatty acids (scVFA, mcVFA) are particularly flexible feedstocks that can be used towards the production of high-value commodities and chemicals. The overarching goal of the project is to open the ‘black-box’ of mixed-culture anaerobic fermentation using advanced molecular and chemical characterization techniques, and also to evaluate the strategies for extracting VFA from the fermentation mixtures. Originally funded as WERF project WRF1722