Before the closure of the IWA Granular Sludge Conference, I had to rush to another important meeting in The Hague. King Abdullah and Queen Rania were visiting The Netherlands, which was a great opportunity for our prime minister Rutte to welcome them with a formal lunch, in the presence of our own King and Queen and ministers Blok, Kaag, Schouten and Van Nieuwenhuizen. The theme of the lunch was the Energy, food and water nexus. In King Abdullah underlined the importance of collaboration on the topic of watermanagement between Jordan and The Netherlands: “Jordan is the second water-poorest country in the world. And indeed, the water situation in our two countries could not be more different. But I say that no two countries better understand the profound impact of water management on humanity’s future. So I think there are some very fruitful areas for our combined knowledge.”
I was invited to answer a question that was asked by Mark Rutte about the possibilities of application of Nereda in Jordan. I spoke enthusiastically about the possibilities of aerobic granular sludge for wastewater treatment, energy production from the sludge itself, water reuse and resource recovery, which led to the remark by minister Blok when putting on our coats that he “never heard anyone speaking so passionate about sludge”. Hopefully this lunch helped to showcase Dutch water technology once more, and to underline importance of collaboration and education in the field of environmental engineering.
Merle de Kreuk
IWA Biofilms: Granular Sludge System Conference 2018
From March 18th to 21st the IWA Biofilms: Granular Sludge Conference 2018 was held here in Delft, with sponsorship from Paques, Biothane and Royal HaskoningDHV. The conference was organised by the departments of Watermanagement (CiTG) and Biotechnology (AS), both having a strong track record in granular sludge research. Aerobic and Anammox granular sludge have even been developed right here in Delft! The conference was the first opportunity for researchers of the different granular sludge types (anaerobic, Anammox and aerobic) to come together and to share their knowledge. The program covered a wide range of topics, from granular sludge microbiomes to application of granular sludge and from granule formation mechanisms to resource recovery. Lesley Robertson of the Delft School of Microbiology Archives gave a fascinating presentation on the life and work of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. As the founding father of microbiology, we still build upon his discoveries in granular sludge research. The conference ended with a site visit to the Nereda (aerobic granular sludge) of WWTP Epe and the UASB and Anammox reactors of WWTP Olburgen.
Granular sludge has been fascinating to researchers and engineers over the past decades across redox conditions. It offers ways to efficiently retain biomass, intensify biological wastewater treatment processes, meet with always more stringent discharge standards, and recover valuable water resources. We aim to bring together and to activate debate across the multiple disciplines needed to understand these small biofilm ecosystems: engineers, biotechnologists, microbiologists, chemists, physicists, mathematical modellers, and innovation technologists. All pioneers, freshmen, and leaders of the field are welcome to critically discuss the state-of-the-art of granular sludge, visit latest-generation installations, and anticipate future breakthroughs and developments.
We look forward to welcoming you to Delft, the birth place of the found father of microbiology, van Leeuwenhoek and Dutch painter Vermeer. See you at the Delft School of Microbiology for what we hope will be a meeting to remember.
Granular sludge offers ways to retain biomass, intensify wastewater treatment processes, and recover used water resources. Continuous research and development since late sixties resulted in breakthrough innovations. Granular sludge science and engineering moved from anaerobic conversions to aerobic-anaerobic ammonium oxidation and full biological nutrient removal. Granulation has first been observed in anaerobic upflow filters and clarigesters. Formation and application of methanogenic granular consortia has intrigued scientists and engineers for decades. Partial nitritation/anammox and "aerobic" granular sludges opened up a new field of ecological engineering to steer new-generation processes.
Functionalities have been pursued across redox conditions. Anaerobic, fermentative, heterotrophic and autotrophic, nitrifying and denitrifying, and even phototrophic conversions have been studied. Reactions combination and populations interactions under diffusional resistances revealed the complexity of these tiny biofilm ecosystems. Original reactor designs vary from slender continuously operated reactors with 3-phase separation to wide sequencing batch reactors. Managing microbial and hydraulic selection pressures for granule formation and retention is crucial. All systems aim at high rates and compactness.
Bio-analytical breakthroughs fostered microbial ecology, ecophysiology, and systems microbiology integration to characterize selection mechanisms and distributed metabolisms. This provides a framework for a better understanding of microbial drivers of granular sludge formation and stability as basis for improved and innovative designs. Granular biofilms consist of microorganisms and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that provide cohesive, hydrophobic, and gelling properties. Granular sludge EPS extracts display different rheological features than flocs. Avanced physical-chemical and molecular research will unravel relations between EPS characteristics and microbiome features.
Resources factories are driven by granular sludge on top of high standards for environmental protection. Besides biogas production, innovative anaerobic systems propel the carboxylate platform. Lipid-rich algal granules steer biofuel production. High-value exopolymers can be recovered from waste granular sludge biosolids, and find application in the industry.
A community of engineers and scientists developed around granular sludge. We aim to bridge pioneers, international leaders, and new-generation experts across disciplines to critically discuss the state-of-the-art and anticipate the future of granular sludge. We convey colleagues from all continents to join us in Delft, for enthusiastic debates and networking.
Lenno van den Berg
Impressie Wereld Waterdag Madurodam 2018
Water and health have always gone together, for the good and the bad.
As students of TU Delft participating in the Water and Health class (CIE5421), we were challenged to come up with a brand-new idea on how to combine the World’s Water Days with an educational activity for the youth. With little hesitation and a hefty dose of enthusiasm, ideas commenced to roll out. Not long into deliberation did it come to light that one of the group members shared a career in the past as a Mayor of the Madurodam - the Dutch miniature park. Little did we know how remarkable of an event would ensue, but first - a lot of work was to be done.
We thought to provide a lecture on modern-day water issues that would be both educational and entertaining for the kids. Madurodam liked the idea from the first beat but a common question occurred - where is the money? That was not enough to stop the momentum of this group and another member reached out to an organization he was a part of to bring more publicity to the issue. This is how the Dutch Wavemakers hopped aboard the boat that we were setting off. We now needed a pivotal partner - not only a sponsor but someone who would want to be there, help with the know-how on water issues and would want to become more known among the younger public. We were in luck because nothing spells out (figuratively) the qualities mentioned above better than Rijkswaterstaat.
And so, we reached out that way, and again - were met with enthusiasm and a ‘yes-we-can’ attitude. As it turned out, Rijkswaterstaat already had an agenda on educating the young ones about the work they do and the water risks we face every day, so this was just the right thing for them! Many emails later all was checked and confirmed, meanwhile, the work on the event was going at full speed.
We decided to combine the lecture with an activity in the park to give the kids the best of both worlds. The lectures encompassed for the strategic points of Rijkswaterstaat’s agenda: water safety in terms of climate change and the damage that could ensue the flooding. This was followed with a quiz on the freshly acquired knowledge and concluded with a story of one of our team-members on why foreigners come flying to the Netherlands to study water management. Partially also to our surprise - this really captivated the children’s attention and left a lasting impression, also in the cultural-diversity scope.
For the park activity we put together a scavenger hunt where kids had to form teams and search the park using a provided map. We placed water-related questions around the park attractions that pertained to water: the water barriers (Oosterscheldekering and Maeslantkering), Kinderdijk and many more. This rally was a big success and together with Rijkswaterstaat’s guidance we succeeded at informing the children about water safety and how it is impacted by climate change. We would like to thank our partners and sponsors - Madurodam, Rijkswaterstaat and Dutch Wavemakers, for making this possible.
Voytek Barycki, Daniel Dacomba, Pieter den Dekker, Noor Holland and Tycho Klessens