i-CREW-International Collaboration for Optimisation of Resource Recovery from Wastewater

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Chemical Engineering


To achieve a sustainable circular economy, recovery and recycling of useful resources needs to be prioritized. Metal contaminated industrial waste streams post great health and ecological concerns, but they are also a valuable source for recovery of useful resources like metals. Traditional metal recovery technologies involve high energy consumption and are chemically intensive. Bioelectrochemical systems such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have emerged as a new sustainable technology platform for removal and recovery of metal ions from industrial wastewaters. MFCs combine treatment of organic wastewater by microbial biofilms at the anode with the reduction of metal ions from metal-laden waste streams at cathode. So far, recovery of several metal ions like Cobalt, Chromium, Copper, Gold, Silver, Selenium, Vanadium, Zinc, etc., has been demonstrated.

Though promising, metal recovery using MFCs is a complex process and depends on large number of operational and design parameters such as, pH, redox potential of the metal ion, type of electrode materials, initial concentration of metal ions in the wastewater, etc. To optimize the process and maximize metal recovery using MFCs, more research is needed to understand the role of different determinant factors influencing the process.

In this international collaborative project, we combine the strengths of two world leading research groups based in UK and India, to develop a robust predictive optimisation tool that can be used to determine the design and operating conditions to maximize the recovery of metals from wastewaters. University of Surrey researchers, Dr. Siddharth Gadkari and Dr. Jhuma Sadhukhan, would develop the comprehensive mathematical models for process optimisation based on the experimental data from the laboratory of Dr. S Venkata Mohan.


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