Integrated Bioprocess Systems for Low-Cost Environmental Remediation and Sustainable Biofertilizer Production
Researchers: Ben Woolston, Amalie Tuerk, Jackie Guo, Erik Wolcott

The Curtis lab received a grant from EPA P3 Program (People Prosperity Planet) for a project to be implemented from August 2010-2011. This is a student design competition for environmentally relevant processes.  

Click here for the poster that was presented at the P3 Expo in Washington, DC from April 15-17, 2011.
Click here for the references from the above poster.

Project Summary: This proposal seeks to identify opportunities to integrate biological process steps for organisms that are being examined individually for their unique capabilities of bioremediation, nitrogen fixation, or biofuel production. The specific systems being considered will take advantage of low-cost bioreactors and bioprocess operation to examine technical and economic feasibility:
  • Nuclear waste sequestration by Geobacter sulfurreducens grown on organic acids produced by Clostridium phytofermentans fermentation of biomass
  • Degradation of endocrine disruptors in wastewater by immobilized fungi grown on algae- secreted polysaccharides during algae biofuel production
  • Low-cost production of Azotobacter for use as a nitrogen-fixing bio-fertilizer from secreted algae carbohydrate, municipal waste water, and Clostridium–produced organic acids
Phase I will follow an instructional course effort to educate students in the complexities of energy-mass inter-conversion for diverse organisms. During Phase I, kinetic data from the literature will be supplemented with experimental measurements in the three case study topics noted above. Process models constructed from the bioreactor designs and operational kinetics will facilitate an economic feasibility analysis for implementation of a Phase II effort on the most promising system(s). The widespread production and utilization of energy and biomass products, combined with the low-cost reactor system, provides potential for implementation and economic
growth in underdeveloped regions where high entry costs are prohibitive. This effort will be augmented by extensive use of data and information distribution via the web.