Wastewater treatment plants are the biorefineries of the future
Every year, up to 10 kg per capita of toilet paper is wasted in the sewage and then metabolised in the activated sludge process, contribuiting to the increase of energy consumption and sludge disposal in municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP).
Despite their added value, cellulose fibers contained in toilet paper are an untapped resource, which might be efficiently recovered from the sieving of municipal wastewater and biologically converted into platform chemicals (volatile fatty acids), biopolymers (polyhydroxyalkanoates) and ingredients for animal feed.
With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions program, the project will develop an innovative method that uses bacterial metabolism to extract cellulose from primary sludge and convert it into bio-based volatile fatty acids and polyhydroxyalkanoates, suitable for energy and animal feed applications.
The project is under the umbrella of University of Verona, Department of Biotechnology, funded by the Eurpean Union.
For more information on the project:
Federico Micolucci, PhD, Department of Biotechnology,University of Verona