ATHENE - Designing new technical wastewater treatment solutions targeted for organic micropollutant biodegradation, by understanding enzymatic pathways and assessing detoxification
The identification of degradation pathways relevant for organic micropollutants in biological wastewater treatment processes is currently a major gap, preventing a profound evaluation of the capability of biological wastewater treatment. By elucidating the responsible enzymatic reactions of mixed microbial populations this project will cover this gap and thereby allow finding technical solutions that harness the true potential of biological processes for an enhanced biodegradation and detoxification. Due to the multi-disciplinary approach Athene will have impacts on the fields of biological wastewater treatment, analytical and environmental chemistry, environmental microbiology, water and (eco)toxicity. The multi-disciplinary approach of the project requires the involvement of a co-investigator experienced in process engineering and microbiology in wastewater treatment. Athene will go far beyond state-of-the-art in the following fields: a) efficiency in chemical analysis and structure identification of transformation products at environmental relevant concentrations; b) identification of enzymatic pathways relevant for micropollutant degradation in biological wastewater treatment; c) designing innovative technical solutions to maximize biodegradation; d) map and model relevant enzymatic pathways for environmental concentrations. Furthermore, designing biological wastewater treatment processes by understanding enzymatic pathways relevant for organic micropollutants removal represents a paradigm shift for municipal wastewater treatment. In the context of the actual scientific discussion about the relevance of trace organics in the aquatic environment and in drinking water, this topic is deemed as highly innovative: for its potential of proposing new technical options as well as for the gain in understanding compound persistency. Finally enzymatic reactions as well as the treatment schemes will be assessed for there capability to reduce toxiciological effects.