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GRONINGEN, Netherlands

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN | Award Amount: 3.37M | Year: 2013

The fate of anthropogenic nitrogen is at the core of our environmental predicament. Human activities have more than doubled the annual input of reactive nitrogen to the biosphere compared to prehistoric levels, causing escalating emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) which contributes to global warming and depletion of stratospheric ozone. Ultimately, anthropogenic nitrogen will return to the atmosphere, either as N2, N2O or NO, which are the gaseous products of microbial red/ox-transformations of mineral nitrogen. The N2/N2O/NO product ratio of these transformations is controlled by the ecology and regulatory biology of the organisms involved, modulated by environmental factors. We need better understanding and quantification of these processes to improve our chances to reduce N2O emissions from managed ecosystems (agriculture and waste treatment systems). Such progress requires interdisciplinary scientific approaches in collaboration with the fertilizer and waste-industries. NORA comprises the strongest research groups in Europe regarding the biochemistry, biotechnology, physiology and ecology of N-transforming microbes in soils and wastewater systems, the R&D of leading fertilizer-, waste treatment- and robot- industry. Major goals are to improve our understanding and predictive ability regarding the ecology and regulatory biology of microbes involved in oxidation and reduction of mineral N species affecting atmospheric N2O. produce a new generation of nitrogen researchers, within both academic and private sectors, with inter- and cross-disciplinary skills and understanding and appreciation of both fundament science and its direct application to environmental, industrial and societal issues. exploit the power of fundamental scientific understanding, developed through interdisciplinary research and close interactions between academia, industry and policy makers, to generate specific recommendations, strategies and solutions to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.

Agency: Cordis | 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.

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