Economically efficient bioflocculants through in-house recycling for sedimentation of brewery fermented liquor

Flocculation is critical in many processes, especially, for example, in the brewery, juice industry and in wastewater treatment plants. Bioflocculants, namely chitosan and chitin, were used to replace the inefficient industrial chemical flocculants. The bioflocculants shortened the flocculation time from 10 days to 2 days enhancing the productivity 5 times by saving 8 working days per batch of fermentation/production. Likewise, considering the bulk cost of the new bioflocculants developed, it was seen that the new cost was almost negligible at $2 per year. Thus, this highly innovative approach translated into significant savings in terms of flocculant cost, flocculation time, lower quantity of secondary wastes (as the flocculants are optimized, hence process control is improved) and is applicable to a wide range of small-scale breweries in Canada and worldwide. Likewise, laccase enzymes were produced from the brewery industry waste and recycled into the industry in crude form for the flocculation. The industry La Barberie Inc. and various other fermentation industries, are actively using this bioflocculant for its flocculation process by replacing the chemicals. Benefits: This technology ropes in socio-environmental impacts through minimization of residues and hence mitigation of climate change.

Goldmine of Enzymes and other high-value products from agricultural residues

Food and beverage processing industry was the largest of all manufacturing industries in Canada, accounting for 16% or $27.7 billion of the manufacturing sector’s total GDP in 2014. It accounted for the largest share (16.6%) of jobs in the manufacturing sector. This sector produces almost 30% of its input as residuals which mostly end up in the landfills, needing second life and value ! This research accomplished innovative and integrated value-addition of pomace disposed as a solid waste and the clarification sludge in an integrated approach to produce ligninolytic enzymes; citric acid; extract polyphenols; and serve as animal feed by using a white rot fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium. This research has a large impact on residue management in Quebec and Canada in terms of integrated residual management in a closed-loop approach. For these reasons, the largest producer of fruit juice in Canada, Lassonde Inc.,has offered its support for developing a novel approach to adding value to their wastes. Benefits: This research can have long lasting repercussions on the managements of residuals by industries and bring in high-value bioproducts with positive impacts on the environment and the economy.

Emerging contaminants transformation into innocuous products by advanced green enzyme oxidation methods

Presence of emerging contaminants in wastewater and wastewater sludge has been plaguing the overall treatment process efficiency. The research confirmed that use of various pre-treatment options, such as hydrolysis and Fenton oxidation as well as enzymes immobilized in the crude form efficiently treated the model emerging contaminant, bisphenol-A (BPA) and plasticizer(DEHP). Likewise, the recent trend has been value-addition of wastewater sludge and initial research on simultaneous degradation of BPA and many pharmaceuticals has yielded new and original research direction in terms of simultaneous decontamination of the residuals during their value-addition. Many fructouous collaborations have been developed with Quebec municipality, H2O Innovation, Magnus Chemicals Inc. and Phytronix Inc. via student scholarship support and strategic research in this field. Benefits: This work has brought in a new dynamic of retrofit biological systems in the wastewater treatment plants for effective degradation of emerging contaminants securing human and environmental health. 

Antibiotic-Metal Complexity in Environment

Chlortetracycline (CTC) is one of the key antibiotics added in the feed for preventive purposes especially for swine livestock in Quebec, Canada. Apart from continuous usage of CTC over 60 years, low metabolism and absorption of CTC in livestock and in humans led to constant release of CTC in the environment which contributed to the increasing bacterial resistance. CTC can form stable metal complexes with wide range of metals. There is low solubility of CTC-metal complex compared to CTC and high adsorption and complexation can lead to CTC retention in wastewater sludge (WWS). These studies proved that antibiotics cannot be taken into consideration just as sole entities. In fact, they should be always considered with metals that are present in abundance. Hence, future treatment technologies must not envisage just antibiotics, but also metal complexes as they can have higher stability than antibiotic alone and can further lead to antibiotic resistance, a world emergency needing actions. Benefits: This research invoked a new paradigm understanding of the persistence and resistance of antibiotics, contributing to the massive theories of the antibiotic apocalypse. 

Crude glycerol to fuel batteries

Biodiesel is one of the most studied and commercially available renewable fuels. During biodiesel production by transesterification of lipids (e.g. vegetable oils, animal fats and algal lipids), crude glycerol (CG) is generated as a by-product; and by weight, it is around 10% of the product. Due to presence of number of impurities as well as continuous increase in its global production, the present market value of CG is as low as $ 0.05/pound. Additionally, cost-effective and sustainable disposal of CG containing methanol, salt and other impurities is a challenge for biodiesel manufacturers that Dr. Brar and her team chose to tackle, through channeling of these impurities toward a high-value and energetic molecule, hydrogen. They used monoculture and co-culture techniques to obtain hydrogen using fermentation. They succeeded in harvesting hydrogen directly from the fermented broths, and used it in hydrogen fuel cells, which convert hydrogen and oxygen into water, with co-generation of electricity. Alternatively, the escaping hydrogen can be burned to make energy. Centre de recherche Industrielle du Québec is an active partner in this research project and further collaboration with industry is envisaged. Benefits: This research led to the high-value-addition of glycerol into biohydrogen, which can drive the course of futuristic bioenergy.