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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 - June 2022

Project Overview

7-101 Wazne
Photo courtesy Alyce Abi Shdid  
7-101 Wazne wastewater collection
Industrial wastewater collection - photo courtesy of Dr. Wazne
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:

 A virtual workshop was organized on July 28, 2021 which covered different treatment options and 
the anaerobic treatment results of organic waste produced in the upper Litani basin. The experimental work is
ongoing using the 20-L reactor. The microbial enrichment experiments are also being implemented. DNA samples for the mono-digestion and co-digestion experiments were shipped overseas for sequencing to delineate the role of different bacteria in the treatment process. Work is ongoing to analyze the completed DNA sequencing results, which will be included in the manuscript that is being prepared.

In the upcoming months, the Invitation will be extended for the USG collaborator to come to Lebanon and preform tasks that so far have been delayed. The experimental work is expected to be completed in the next 6 months, with the project estimated to be completed by June 2022. The second workshop is planned to be organized and two manuscripts are being finalized which will include the most recent DNA sequencing data

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