ToOLTuBES: Toxicity & Organic Load Tracking using BioElectrochemical Systems

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Natural Sciences & Env Sciences

Abstract

The ToOLTuBES project (Toxicity & Organic Load Tracking using BioElectrochemical Systems) will advance the development of a water quality biosensor towards technology readiness level TRL 7 (demonstration in an operating environment at pre-commercial scale). BES technology, which incorporates an electrode-supported microbial biofilm that generates electricity from oxidation of organics, and has great potential for low-cost, real-time sensing applications. The magnitude of the electrical current generated correlates with the organic loading and conversely when toxic compounds are present the signal is inhibited. The sensor will be used to monitor organic load and toxicity levels in real-time on wastewater influent samples from a real-world, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Long-term monitoring data will be collected over two years and used to inform design and cohesion of a combined sensor package, which will propel the technology towards commercial realisation.

Publications

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Spurr M (2018) Extending the dynamic range of biochemical oxygen demand sensing with multi-stage microbial fuel cells in Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology

 
Description Our sensor has been deployed at a real wastewater treatment plant and shown to be capable of monitoring changes in concentration of organic material for extended periods (over 1 year). We have developed a calibration model that predicts this with good precision and have identified design features that needed to be improved. We have manufactured an updated prototype with improved hydraulics and data processing capabilities and this is now being deployed in the field.
Exploitation Route With demonstration in the field, there is potential to apply this in a range of situations where on line monitoring of organic material in wastestreams or other media is required.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment

 
Description Our sensor has been deployed at a wastewater treatment plant and shown to be able to track changes in BOD.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
 
Description UK - Long-term field trial of BioElectrochemical System Sensor (BES Sensor) for monitoring of Water Quality in real-time
Amount £94,267 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/R009473/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 04/2019
 
Description Chivas Brothers Ltd 
Organisation Chivas Brothers ltd.
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Initial meetings to describe the BES technology to the partner. Regular meetings to disseminate results.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of distillery waste samples for testing of the biosensor. Intellectual input into discussion of results.
Impact Provision of samples from distillery process. Historical in-house data. Industry knowledge and assistance with wider dissemination.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Northumbrian Water Ltd 
Organisation Northumbrian Water
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Initial meeting to describe technology to partner. Regular meetings to disseminate and discuss results.
Collaborator Contribution Access to research-customised wastewater treatment facility in Birtley, Gateshead. Access to piped domestic waste for real-world testing of biosensor.
Impact Access to operational sites for testing and evaluation Provision of influent and effluent samples and associated water quality data Access to technical and operational expertise Advisory support to project team
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU-ISMET 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Newcastle University organized and hosted the International Society for Microbial Electrochemistry and Technology EU-ISMET Meeting in 2018. Project team members were the meeting chairs and with international partners formed the organisation and scientific advisory committee.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://conferences.ncl.ac.uk/eu-ismet2018/
 
Description Engagement with potential technology development partner (PhotonFire Ltd) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting to discuss potential applications of BES based sensors, development of signal and data processing systems and possibilities for commercial development of such devices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Final project meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Microbial Electrochemical Technology for Resource Recovery (MeteoRR) final meeting/conference, 10th May 2018, Hilton Hotel, Newcastle, UK.
Including policy focused session on Life Cycle Sustainability and Policy Analyses of Plausible Systems for Resource Recovery from Waste.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting to engage new industry partner, Reece Innovation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact NDA signed and meeting to discuss sensor and electronics development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Meeting with Jason Snape, Astra Zeneca 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting to discuss Astra Zeneca and toxicity sensing in general
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with Shell's Chief Scientist (Jeremy Shears) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussions with Jeremy Shears (Shell Chief Scientist) on:
Bioelectrochemical systems for low carbon fuels and the LifesCO2R project
Energy from waste
Oil and Gas related research
Newcastle University industrial collaborations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Monthly maintenance meeting with Northumbrian water 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Newcastle team provide updates on sensor experiments and results carried out on site, Northumbrian Water provide updates on any site activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
 
Description Participant in Bio Electrical Engineering (BEE) Workshop, University of Warwick 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral Presentation "Resource recovery from wastewater with microbial bioelectrochemical systems" - Ian Head (U. of Newcastle), Session 3 (Microbial electricity and electro-fermentation).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/lifesci/research/beehive/beeworkshop_program/
 
Description Site tour to BE:WISE with John Russell (Ofwat) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Visit to BE:WISe facility by John Russell, Senior Director of Strategy and Planning, Ofwat and demonstration of BES sensor experiment
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Skype call with InnovateUK Sensors KTN team (Liquin Yang) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Project team outlined current status of sensor development and discussed possible business interactions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Trade journal article for the water industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Davenport R, Spurr M, Head I, Cherry B. Engineering biology for the circular economy in water resources. Water Industry Journal 2018, 7(June), 50-51.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://issuu.com/distinctivepublishing/docs/wij07/50
 
Description Visit by BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy Head of Strategy, Colin Miles 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We organized a meeting on industrial biotech and invited Colin Miles, Head of Strategy for BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, who provided an overview of the BBSRC Research Strategy with a focus on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. Newcastle University showcased research funded by or relevant to Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. The event also provided valuable networking time with colleagues across the University. Discussions about BBSRC strategic direction and future opportunities were conducted in a number of break out meetings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Visit to Quorn foods to explore future research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Newcastle team visit to Quorn foods to explore future research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017