Wondelgem, Belgium
Wondelgem, Belgium

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Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 4.06M | Year: 2013

We will provide the first-ever research training in the transdisciplinary area of Microbial Resource Management and Engineering (MRME) to develop new concepts and technologies to meet the imminent societal challenge of closing the Urban Water Cycle (UWC), the sustainable management of residual waters and the preparation and distribution of safe potable water. The network consists of 10 regional world-leading Network Partners (NP) from private and academic sectors in DK, BE, UK, PT, CH, SE, complemented by 8 associated partners. Transdisciplinary training of 13 ESR and one ER will span from (molecular) microbial ecology to environmental engineering. Each ESR develops a personal and professional development plan. Training elements include expert training through cutting-edge individualized research projects, cross-sectoral mentorships, private sector internships, and participation in Network-wide PhD schools. Schools alternate between professional and technical training. The ITN ends with a fellow-led international research symposium. A supervisory board tracks project implementation. The private sector is engaged at the highest level: 4 private partners are full NPs. The ITN will provide ESRs with transsectoral training and experience, and instill an aptitude for research valorization, to create opportunity for research careers in public and private sectors. This ITN is timely, significant, and unique, as scientific and technological advances create tremendous opportunities for MRME, training in this transdisciplinary area is essentially absent across EU, and the need for innovation in closing the UWC is pressing, as water resources dwindle, urban consumption grows, and existing infrastructure ages. The ITN will structure the European research area and strengthen ties between and within the academic and private partners across regions. Researchers will be trained at the highest level with job prospects across academic, private, and public sectors.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.4-02 | Award Amount: 8.00M | Year: 2012

BRIGIT aims to develop a cost-competitive and environmentally friendly continuous process to produce biopolymers (polyhydroxybutyrate, PHB, and succinate-based biopolyesters, PBS-Poly-Butylene-Succinate) from waste-derived lignocelullosic sugar feedstock liquor of wood sulphite pulping process based on in-situ fermentation process and new fermentation culture technology without alteration of the quality of current lignosulphonates (they have a high market demand as additive). Other non-wood plant waste, used nowadays in the pulp production, will be also considered as alternative sugar source in this project. In comparison with previous projects to obtain biopolymers from different sources, the main innovation in BRIGIT is the use of an existing sugar-rich waste stream and the process integration with the existing industrial operation, that will permit an overall reduction in resource consumption and in greenhouse gas emissions and a dramatic reduction of operational costs due to the use of non-sterile steps, without the need of intermediate discontinuous bioreactors and avoiding waste transport. BRIGIT aims to develop bio-based composites for high-tech fire-resistant applications. The use of these biopolymers in combination with natural fabrics (flax, hemp,...) will be mainly in the passenger and goods transport sector (aeronautics, train, buses, shipping, trucks,..) as an alternative to 3D sandwich panels made from thermoset resins reinforced with continuous glass fibres with high fire resistance. The new panels will be recyclable, lighter, with a broad processing windows, high production capacity (using a continuous compression moulding process) and low embodied energy in comparison with current panels that are heavy, non-recyclable, have narrow processing windows, low production capacity, dirty process with high production of waste and based on materials with high embodied energy.

This proposal aims at developing a versatile fermentation platform for the conversion of lipid feed stocks into diverse added-value products. It is proposed to develop the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica into a microbial factory by directing its versatile lipid metabolism towards the production of industrially valuable compounds like wax esters (WE), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), free hydroxyl fatty acids (HFAs) and isoprenoid-derived compounds (carotenoids, polyenic carotenoid ester). Conversion of lipid intermediates into these products will be achieved by introducing heterologous enzyme functions isolated from marine hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria into Yarrowia. To achieve these goals we have assembled a team with a broad set of complementary expertise in microbial physiology, metabolic engineering, yeast lipid metabolism, metagenomics, biochemical and protein engineering. Already available for this project are a number of genetically engineered Yarrowia strains as well as a collection of genes encoding enzymes for the production of WEs, 3-HFAs, PHAs and carotenoids. The following complementary research focus areas are proposed: (1) Engineering of metabolic precursor pools in Yarrowia lipolytica for the production of added-value products from lipids (INRA, UGe). (2) Conversion of metabolic precursor pools in Yarrowia to added-value products by overexpressing heterologous biosynthetic enzymes (UGe, INRA, UoM). (3) Discovery and characterization of novel aliphatic enzyme activities by metagenomic screening of marine hydrocarbonoclastic and other oil- and fat-metabolizing microbial communities (TUBS, UoN). The project is further complemented by: (i) the activity of a professional valorization company (Ascenion) providing IP protection and commercialization services; (ii) by proactive efforts to expand the projects target products application potential (Avecom).

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2010.3.5-01 | Award Amount: 3.95M | Year: 2011

BIOTREAT brings together six research institutions and four SMEs to develop much-needed water treatment biotechnologies for removing pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other organic micropollutants from contaminated drinking water resources. These biotechnologies will be developed into prototype biofilter systems ready for subsequent commercialisation. The biofilters will contain non-pathogenic pollutant-degrading bacteria, with the bacteria being immobilised on specific carriers to ensure their prolonged survival and sustained degradative activity. Through beyond state-of-the-art research, BIOTREAT will ensure that these novel water treatment biotechnologies are highly transparent, reliable and predictable. Two complementary biotreatment strategies will be followed, one based on metabolic processes whereby the bacteria completely mineralise specific micropollutants and the other based on cometabolic degradation utilising the ability of methane- and ammonium-oxidising bacteria to unspecifically degrade a range of micropollutants for which specific degraders are not yet available. The biofilter systems will be carefully validated through cost-benefit analysis and environmental life cycle assessment. A road map will be drawn up for post-project exploitation, including individual SME business plans. Effective dissemination of the BIOTREAT results will be ensured by close collaboration with an End-user Board comprised of representatives from waterworks, water authorities, industry, etc. In addition to bringing considerable advances to water treatment biotechnology, the main outcome of BIOTREAT will thus be prototype biofilter systems (metabolic and cometabolic) ready for commercialisation in a number of highly relevant water treatment scenarios, including existing sand filters at waterworks, mobile biofilters placed close to groundwater abstraction wells, sand barriers between surface waters and abstraction wells, and protective barriers in aquifers.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 3.89M | Year: 2012

The aim of the present Marie Curie project proposal is the development of self-healing materials, the market implementation for the most promising material concepts and developments as well as the training of young scientists and their knowledge transfer in mutual interaction programs due to the distinct interdisciplinary shape of the project. The partners intend to address both actual fundamental research in material development as well as the complementary aspects of conceptual process chain analysis from a more industrial perspective. We have chosen to restrict our research to self healing material concepts with an existing sizeable academic development base and a sufficient number of positive findings to ensure a significant possibility of successful conversion to industrial application. If we succeed in bridging the gaps in knowledge and understanding for these promising materials, industrial development of these concepts and technologies is to be expected. This can only be achieved if specific interdisciplinary training is provided to young researchers, to master the concepts, know how to quantify healing, and how to position these materials in the application fields. Finally, it should be made clear that, notwithstanding the industrial oriented approach in this proposal, the work to be undertaken will always be of the highest scientific/academic character and aims to set a new standard in the development of novel material concepts. The objects of the proposal are -training and education for junior researchers and a strong support for the interdisciplinarity of the project to ensure technology transfer from laboratory research to industrial application -promote actual self-healing strategies an concepts that address current materials or engineering limitations to application -exploit the existing scientific and technological leadership of the partners to deliver viable and advanced solutions for the commercial exploitation of self-healing materials.

Avecom N.V. and Cb Groep Bvba | Date: 2015-11-11

The present invention comprises a method and a system for the treatment of liquid, such as coming from an air washer for removing ammonia from air streams, wherein the method comprises the following steps: (a) providing nitrite-comprising liquid, preferably from washing ammonia-comprising air; (b) adding a nitrite-converting substance, preferably sulfamic acid to the system, wherein the nitrite in the liquid is chemically converted into nitrogen gas, leading to a treated liquid. The invention can be used for the treatment of air streams generated in fertilizer processing, biogas plants, composting processes, livestock farming or industrial processes.

Matassa S.,Ghent University | Matassa S.,Avecom NV | Boon N.,Ghent University | Verstraete W.,Ghent University | Verstraete W.,Avecom NV
Water Research | Year: 2015

Resources in used water are at present mainly destroyed rather than reused. Recovered nutrients can serve as raw material for the sustainable production of high value bio-products. The concept of using hydrogen and oxygen, produced by green or off-peak energy by electrolysis, as well as the unique capability of autotrophic hydrogen oxidizing bacteria to upgrade nitrogen and minerals into valuable microbial biomass, is proposed. Both axenic and mixed microbial cultures can thus be of value to implement re-synthesis of recovered nutrients in biomolecules. This process can become a major line in the sustainable "water factory" of the future. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Ersan Y.C.,Ghent University | Da Silva F.B.,Ghent University | Da Silva F.B.,Avecom NV | Boon N.,Ghent University | And 3 more authors.
Construction and Building Materials | Year: 2015

Bacteria that can induce calcium carbonate precipitation have been studied for self-healing concrete applications. Due to the harsh environment of concrete, i.e. very high pH, small pore size and dry conditions, protection methods/materials have been used to preserve the bacterial agents. A wide screening of commercially available materials is thus required to evaluate them as alternatives. This study describes the influence of six commercially available possible protection approaches (diatomaceous earth, metakaolin, expanded clay, granular activated carbon, zeolite and air entrainment) on mortar setting and compressive strength when combined with either Bacillus sphaericus spores or Diaphorobacter nitroreducens and their respective nutrients. The influence of two novel, self-protected, bacterial agents was also investigated within the same scope. The most severe effect on setting time was observed as an undesirable delay of 340 min in all samples containing nutrients for ureolytic bacteria. Samples containing B. sphaericus spores showed the most significant decreases in compressive strength up to 68%. Yet, the addition of either D. nitroreducens or its respective nutrients did not cause major impact on both the setting times and the compressive strengths of the mortar specimens. The latter thus appears to be a suitable bacterial agent for further research on self-healing concrete. Likewise, the use of the novel self-protected bacterial agents did not affect the setting and the compressive strength of mortar. These results pave the way to replace protection materials with self-protection techniques. The latter should be further investigated for development of microbial self-healing concrete. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

De Vrieze J.,Ghent University | Verstraete W.,Ghent University | Verstraete W.,Avecom NV
Environmental Microbiology | Year: 2016

Microbial management in anaerobic digestion is mainly focused on physically present and metabolically active species. Because of its complexity and operation near the thermodynamic equilibria, it is equally important to address functional regulation, based on spatial organisation and interspecies communication. Further establishment of the knowledge on microbial communication in anaerobic digestion through quorum sensing and nanowires is needed. Methods to detect centres of concentrated activity, related to the presence of highly active and well-connected species that take a central role in the anaerobic digestion process, have to be optimized. Bioaugmentation could serve as a crucial tool to introduce keystone species that may create or sustain such centres. Functional stability can be maintained by keeping the microbial community active. This results in a clear trade-off between functionally active and redundant microorganisms as primary basis for microbial community organization. Finally, a microbial community based prediction strategy for advanced process control is formulated. © 2016 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: NMP.2012.2.1-3 | Award Amount: 5.61M | Year: 2013

Within the call Self-healing materials for prolonged lifetime, self-healing concrete is an important topic. Adequate perpetuation of the road, tunnel and bridge network, is crucial to preserving European cohesion and business operations; and around 70% of this infrastructure is made of concrete. In order to guarantee liquid tightness of concrete structures, and enhance durability of elements prone to bending cracks, smart concrete with self-healing properties will be designed. Thanks to the existing expertise of the consortium in the field of self-healing concrete at a lab scale, a thoughtful selection of promising techniques is possible. For early age cracks a non-elastic repair material can be proposed, such as calcium carbonate precipitated by bacteria, or new cement hydrates of which the formation is stimulated by the presence of hydrogels. For moving cracks under dynamic load, an elastic polymeric healing agent is suggested. Different healing agents and encapsulation techniques are tested and scaled up. Self-healing efficiency is evaluated in lab-scale tests using purposefully adapted monitoring techniques, and optimized with the help of suitable computer models. Finally the efficiency is validated in a large scale lab test and implemented in an actual concrete structure. Life-cycle cost analysis will show the impact of the self-healing technologies on economy, society and environment compared to traditional construction methods.

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