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Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)

Advancing anaerobic digestion in the upper Litani basin for industrial wastewater treatment

PI: Mahmoud Wazne (, Lebanese American University (LAU)
U.S. Partner: Haluk Beyenal, Washington State University
Dates: January 2019 - December 2020

Project Overview

7-101 Wazne
Photo courtesy Alyce Abi Shdid  
The project aims at advancing the use of anaerobic digestion treatment in the upper Litani basin and improving the treatment performance for organic industrial wastewater discharge. The main project objectives are to (1) demonstrate the applicability of anaerobic digestion and test co-digestion of combined waste streams, (2) enhance the anaerobic digestion treatment performance based on a newly developed integrated bio-electrochemical reactor technology, and (3) increase public awareness about anaerobic digestion for industrial wastewater discharge and train young researchers on this sustainable treatment option.

An innovative approach in this research is the use of co-digestion (combined substrates) of the industrial wastewater discharge. Realizing that mono-digestion (single substrate) may fail or achieve low yield, co-digestion of wastewater from multiple industries can provide a balance in substrate nutrients which will result in improved treatment results. Co-digestion of combined waste streams can also provide potential collaborative treatment modalities among the industrial wastewater generators resulting in the reduction of the required capital cost. Enhancement of the anaerobic treatment performance based on a newly developed integrated bio-electrochemical reactor technology is a cross-disciplinary integrative research project which will be utilizing and build on complementary expertise of the PEER team and the U.S. partner combining keen understanding of the electron transfer processes in the electrochemically active biofilms (sludge granules) and the environmental engineering expertise to transform microscale findings into a scaled up treatment.

The project is anticipated to raise public awareness about anaerobic digestion as a sustainable treatment for organic industrial wastewater discharge through a series of workshops and a best practices document on anaerobic digestion. The project will involve undergraduate and graduate students and prepare them for careers in the fields of anaerobic digestion treatment.

Summary of Recent Activities:

7-101 Wazne wastewater collection
Industrial wastewater collection - photo courtesy of Dr. Wazne
During April - June 2019 reporting period, the research group collected large volumes of industrial wastewater discharge from five factories in the upper Litani basin aided by the Litani River Authority. The collected wastewater samples were fully characterized and stored in a freezer for later use in the treatment studies. The research group also collected anaerobic digestion seeding from the anaerobic digestion treatment plant in Bkassine in South Lebanon. Representative mixed food waste sample was also collected from the Bkassine treatment plant to be used in control studies to benchmark the anaerobic reactors at LAU. The six 5-L anaerobic reactors are fully installed now and the research group started feeding the reactors with the mixed food waste and the seeding collected at Bkassine to vet the system before starting treatment of the industrial wastewater discharge. After extensive delays, the 20-L anaerobic reactor was received from the manufacturer in the UK.  
In the month of July, Dr. Wazne visited his US partner Dr. Haluk Beyenal at Washington State University to  discuss the ongoing research and specifically the research related to the PEER project.At the lab Dr. Wazne learned from the research group various techniques on how to setup and run bioelectrochemical reactors and learned about bioelectrochemical reactors techniques. During July 30 - August 2, he attended a short course on Electrochemically Active Biofilms offered by Dr. Beyenal  where  methods on electrochemical techniques used to study extracellular electron transfer in the electrochemically active biofilms. After extensive discussions, Dr. Beyenal and the PI agreed on a road map forward with Dr. Wazne running macroscale studies and Dr. Beyenal doing work on a micro-scale level.  

 After returning from the training visit, Dr. Wazne will start preparation to initiate a bioelectrochemical reactor setup at LAU.

Media Updates:

The "Win-Win" in Wasterwater Treatment, by Alyce Abi Shdid

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