Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) and Recovery

Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen are common causes of eutrophication in natural water bodies when present in high concentrations, leading to the growth of toxic Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) with adverse effects on plant and animal life.

BIOENG focusses on biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal processes in wastewater treatment systems, and optimising the performance of these systems;

  • Investigation into operational conditions - minimise the growth of unwanted competitor organisms (e.g. glycogen accumulating organisms – GAOs) that can grow and reduce the efficiency of enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) systems;
  • Identification of relevant microorganisms performing nitrification (ammonia oxidising bacteria – AOB and nitrite oxidising bacteria – NOB), denitrification and phosphorus removal (polyphosphate accumulating organisms – PAOs), GAOs and others using molecular tools;

  • Investigation into the metabolic characteristics of these different groups of microorganisms;
  • Development and application of mathematical models to describe, design and optimise BNR processes.

Nutrient recovery is of increasing importance due to the rapid depletion of phosphorus reserves worldwide;

BIOENG is investigating:

  • new links between BNR and nutrient recovery with alternative process configurations in order to maximise our ability to re-utilise valuable resource.