Resource recovery from wastewater with Bioelectrochemical Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Centre for Environmental Strategy

Abstract

Production and recovery of energy and industrial materials from novel biological sources reduces our dependency on the Earth's finite mineral petrochemical resources and helps the UK economy to become a low carbon economy. Recovering energy and valuable resources such as metals from waste materials is an attractive but challenging prospect. The valuable materials are usually present in wastes at very low levels and present as a highly complex mixture. This makes it very difficult to concentrate and purify them in an economically sustainable manner.
In recent years there have been exciting advances in our understanding of ways in which microorganisms can extract the energy locked up in the organic compounds found in wastewater and in the process generate electricity. This is achieved in devices known as microbial fuel cells (MFC). In an MFC microorganisms on the anode oxidize organic compounds and in doing so generate electrons. These electrons are passed into an electrical circuit and transferred to the MFC cathode where they usually react with oxygen to form water, sustaining an electric current in the process. In theory MFC can be configured such that, rather than conversion of oxygen to water at the cathode they could convert metal ions to metals or drive the synthesis of valuable chemicals. It is our aim to develop such systems that use energy harvested from wastewater to recover metals from metal-containing waste streams and for the synthesis of valuable chemicals, ultimately from CO2.
This project will bring together experts from academia and industry to devise ways in which this can be achieved and will form the foundation of a research programme where scientists working on fundamental research and those with the skills to translate laboratory science to industrial processes will work together to develop sustainable processes for the production of valuable resources from waste.

Planned Impact

The main impact of the proposed technology that will be evaluated is the application of bioelectrochemical systems to tackle the burden of waste treatment (nationally and eventually Internationally) and transferring the energy, metals and minerals contained within to produce useful products. The proposed bioelectrochemical system will have wide applications particularly to industries producing wastewater with high organic content. Thus potential non-academic beneficiaries may include the food and drink industry, breweries, agriculture and the paper and pulp industry and also water utilities charged with sustainable treatment of wastewater from a range of sources. The technologies that will be developed in the project will permit them to recover value from their waste products. More immediately the research will have impact on our industrial collaborators who will be involved in developing new materials and processes as a result of their collaboration with the academic researchers in this project ( e.g. Chemviron Carbon, MagnetoChemie, WH Partnership). These and other organizations will be involved from the outset in identifying research needs and planning a project that will meet them. The societal significance of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and geological resources is immense and this will clearly impact environmental regulators, policy makers and politicians. The accompanying Pathways to Impact document details how we will maximize the chances of realizing these impacts through various activities designed to foster close collaboration an engagement with potential non-academic beneficiaries.
 
Description Techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment (LCA) of copper recovery from industrial wastewaters using microbial electrosynthesis (MES) systems have been completed in collaboration with Newcastle and Chivas Brothers Ltd. Two research outputs are expected.

Research outcome is from partnership between 4 major research groups / universities (Newcastle, Surrey, Manchester, U Wales) with strong links with three other world leaders in the field (Ugent, U Pennstate and VITO). A number of aspects we have first time revealed in the paper: Sadhukhan, J., Lloyd, J.R., Scott, K., Premier, G.C., Eileen, H.Y., Curtis, T. and Head, I.M., 2016. A critical review of integration analysis of microbial electrosynthesis (MES) systems with waste biorefineries for the production of biofuel and chemical from reuse of CO 2. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 56, pp.116-132. This paper makes several novel contributions.
1) Integrated biorefinery and microbial electrosynthesis (MES) process conceptual flowsheets;
2) A plethora of added value product generation options from MES, and integrated biorefinery and MES process flowsheets;
3) Theoretical modelling framework for MES systems from the fundamental basis of the Gibbs free energy minimisation or thermodynamic optimisation of biologically relevant reactions to produce biofuels, hydrogen, energy and chemical products.
4) A market- and sustainability- driven strategy to speed up the development of MES combining metabolic flux analysis, metabolic pathway analysis, thermodynamic optimisation, process simulation, dynamics and control experimentation.
5) Unlocking the value of metals and organics from urban waste by innovative MES and biorefinery technologies.
Exploitation Route "Bio-based industries show €600 billion turnover and 3.2 million employees. The bio-based industry is already an important part of the European economy and a pivotal element in the transition to a sustainable, circular economy in Europe with renewable raw materials as key enablers." (http://www.rebnews.com/news/resource_efficiency/bioeconomy_including_plastics_paper_worth_e21_trillion_european_economy.html) The bio-based industries are currently facing the challenges resulting from increasing volume of stillage streams representing unconverted organics, which are discharged to the environment. However, these should not be directly disposed of to the environment due to increasing concerns over land, aquatic and atmospheric emissions. The integrated technology and protocol we have developed can help recover these biorefinery pollutants as resources and thereby eliminate discharges to the environment. Biorefineries and MES systems may be symbiotically integrated to increase product yields and selectivities and thereby overall efficiency to resolve the key issues with up-scaling of both the technologies.
By the virtue of different reduction potentials, selective synthesis of biofuels and chemicals is possible in MES utilising carbon sources from waste streams. Realizing the full polygeneration potentials, i.e. simultaneous recovery of metals (apparently pollutants from biorefineries), production of biofuels and chemicals from reuse of CO2, and synergistic integration within biorefineries, is imperative to attain an economic and environmental upside of novel electrochemical synthesis processes.
Sectors Chemicals,Creative Economy,Education,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
URL http://www.theibest.org/
 
Description 1. Environmental impact saving must be more than environmental impact cost to give a positive environmental driver for the MES under consideration for copper recovery from distillery effluents. Environmental savings are of two types, direct due to copper recovery from secondary resources and indirect due to primary fossil resource saving. Environmental costs are due to acquisition and manufacturing of materials for the synthesis of cells. Newcastle are working on cell materials to lower the environmental costs. 2. Fuel cell (FC) mode gives greater environmental drivers than electrolysis cell (EC) mode of MES systems. More specifically, the set up for FC must run for 7-10 years, while for EC 14-15 years, to break-even environmental impact cost and saving. Progress is being made to meet or validate these life times. 3. Environmental LCA gives an indication of numbers of years of lifetime of various BES set-ups, needed. Taking the numbers of years of lifetime as the bases of net present value or discounted cash flow calculations, internal rate of return can be estimated. Internal rate of return then tells how much more revenues may be needed from product recovery. 4. Both the quality and quantity aspects of recovered copper have to be looked at using integrated waste management approach, to achieve the feasible rate of return. More specifically, the set up for FC must give 15-16 times more revenues, and this can be achieved by the recovery of Cu with functional properties like catalytic properties. Thus, the experimental efforts have been directed to functional Cu recovery and integrated waste management. 5. For continuous operations two cells of same designs have been recommended with one operating and another regenerating. The environmental impact and economic costs are thus doubled for the same amount of copper recovery from a single cell. Electrochemical technologies are seen to be the next generations renewable technologies for resource recovery from waste in various sectors in major technology roadmapping papers and works worldwide. Our work for the first time showed outstandinly creative sustainable solution. Furthermore, electrochemical technologies and waste biorefineries can be integrated for increased efficiency and competitiveness with stillage released from the latter process used in the former as feedstock and energy resource recovered from the former used in the latter. Such symbiotic integration can avoid loss of material and energy from waste streams, thereby increasing the overall efficiency, economics and environmental performance that would serve towards delivering the common goals from both the systems. A major expansion of the range and the depth of research and its application can be clearly seen in the framework developed: 63 anodic and 72 cathodic reactions of metabolism and 9 metabolic pathways have been modelled for assessing technical feasibility of resource recovery from waste substrates. This entails the whole complete and comprehensive range of feasible productions. Earlier works dealt with one target product using the system, but not the entire paradigm of possibilities. We now have Chivas Brothers on board looking to explore the technology for metal recovery from wastewater. Other industrial partners include: Tata Steel, Northumbrian Water, Chemviron Carbon, MAGNETO, WH Partnership. For more details, visit: http://www.meteorr.ac.uk/
Sector Chemicals,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic
 
Description Multidisciplinary Fuels Call
Amount £1,924,296 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/N009746/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2016 
End 02/2020
 
Description NERC Mini Project Call Round 2
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Title Database creation for microbial electrosynthesis (MES) of chemical products, metal and nanomaterials 
Description 1) A plethora of added value product generation options from MES, and integrated biorefinery and MES process flowsheets has been created, which practically includes all possible options. 2) Theoretical modelling framework for MES systems from the fundamental basis of the Gibbs free energy minimisation or thermodynamic optimisation of biologically relevant reactions to produce biofuels, hydrogen, energy and chemical products. 3) A market- and sustainability- driven strategy is enabled to speed up development of MES combining metabolic flux analysis, metabolic pathway analysis and thermodynamic optimisation. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact 1. To quickly screen feasible options. 2. To optimise MES systems. 3. To speed up upscaling of MES systems. 4. To enable sustainable MES system design. 
URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032115012678
 
Description Cu recovery from distillary wastewater 
Organisation Chivas Brothers ltd.
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods, CML 2010, ReCiPe 1.07 and Impact 2002+, giving primary, endpoint and midpoint characterisations, respectively, are employed to estimate both resources (input) and toxicity impacts (output) that can be saved by metal recovery. A profile of avoided damage factor (MJ/kg MSW) estimated by the Impact 2002+ midpoint characterisation method, against price of metal recovered (EURO/kg MSW), shows the highest to the lowest targeted metals for recovery, as follows: Cu > Al > Zn, respectively.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrosynthesis technology implementation. South Welsh: Scale up Manchester: Nanotechnology implementation Surrey: Sustainable industrial system development Chivas Brothers: Site offered for implementation of the technology
Impact Two peer-reviewed journal publications are in progress. Specific highlights of the research outcome include: 1. Subsidies for waste treatment are not needed if chemical and metals are recovered. 2. Value analysis determines profitability according to chemical > metals > energy > composting, by waste valorisation. 3. Process integration for competitive waste biorefineries is illustrated. 4. It consists of conceptual design through simulation, heat integration to analyses.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Cu recovery from distillary wastewater 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods, CML 2010, ReCiPe 1.07 and Impact 2002+, giving primary, endpoint and midpoint characterisations, respectively, are employed to estimate both resources (input) and toxicity impacts (output) that can be saved by metal recovery. A profile of avoided damage factor (MJ/kg MSW) estimated by the Impact 2002+ midpoint characterisation method, against price of metal recovered (EURO/kg MSW), shows the highest to the lowest targeted metals for recovery, as follows: Cu > Al > Zn, respectively.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrosynthesis technology implementation. South Welsh: Scale up Manchester: Nanotechnology implementation Surrey: Sustainable industrial system development Chivas Brothers: Site offered for implementation of the technology
Impact Two peer-reviewed journal publications are in progress. Specific highlights of the research outcome include: 1. Subsidies for waste treatment are not needed if chemical and metals are recovered. 2. Value analysis determines profitability according to chemical > metals > energy > composting, by waste valorisation. 3. Process integration for competitive waste biorefineries is illustrated. 4. It consists of conceptual design through simulation, heat integration to analyses.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Cu recovery from distillary wastewater 
Organisation University of Newcastle
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods, CML 2010, ReCiPe 1.07 and Impact 2002+, giving primary, endpoint and midpoint characterisations, respectively, are employed to estimate both resources (input) and toxicity impacts (output) that can be saved by metal recovery. A profile of avoided damage factor (MJ/kg MSW) estimated by the Impact 2002+ midpoint characterisation method, against price of metal recovered (EURO/kg MSW), shows the highest to the lowest targeted metals for recovery, as follows: Cu > Al > Zn, respectively.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrosynthesis technology implementation. South Welsh: Scale up Manchester: Nanotechnology implementation Surrey: Sustainable industrial system development Chivas Brothers: Site offered for implementation of the technology
Impact Two peer-reviewed journal publications are in progress. Specific highlights of the research outcome include: 1. Subsidies for waste treatment are not needed if chemical and metals are recovered. 2. Value analysis determines profitability according to chemical > metals > energy > composting, by waste valorisation. 3. Process integration for competitive waste biorefineries is illustrated. 4. It consists of conceptual design through simulation, heat integration to analyses.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Cu recovery from distillary wastewater 
Organisation University of South Wales
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods, CML 2010, ReCiPe 1.07 and Impact 2002+, giving primary, endpoint and midpoint characterisations, respectively, are employed to estimate both resources (input) and toxicity impacts (output) that can be saved by metal recovery. A profile of avoided damage factor (MJ/kg MSW) estimated by the Impact 2002+ midpoint characterisation method, against price of metal recovered (EURO/kg MSW), shows the highest to the lowest targeted metals for recovery, as follows: Cu > Al > Zn, respectively.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrosynthesis technology implementation. South Welsh: Scale up Manchester: Nanotechnology implementation Surrey: Sustainable industrial system development Chivas Brothers: Site offered for implementation of the technology
Impact Two peer-reviewed journal publications are in progress. Specific highlights of the research outcome include: 1. Subsidies for waste treatment are not needed if chemical and metals are recovered. 2. Value analysis determines profitability according to chemical > metals > energy > composting, by waste valorisation. 3. Process integration for competitive waste biorefineries is illustrated. 4. It consists of conceptual design through simulation, heat integration to analyses.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Zn recovery from wastewater using microbial electrosynthesis technology 
Organisation Tata Steel Europe
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The team at Surrey University works on Life Cycle Sustainability Assessments of microbial electrochemical systems, to inform design and scale up decisions. They interact closely with industrial partners to ensure the research is relevant to real world wastewater treatment. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LSCA) is a tool to characterise and assess the environmental, economic and societal aspects of a process, which can help in decision making. For example, in choosing between different waste treatment processes to be installed at an industrial site, LCSA can be used to assess the impacts of environmental, economic and societal aspects of different waste treatment technologies. Within the EU, the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (96/61/EC) aims to prevent or minimise pollution of water, air and soil by industrial effluent and other waste from industrial installations, including energy industries, by defining basic obligations for operating licences or permits and by introducing targets, or benchmarks, for energy efficiency. The Directive on the Limitation of Emissions of Certain Pollutants into the Air from Large Combustion Plants (2001/80/EC) - has acted to limit heavy metal emissions via dust control and absorption of heavy metals. Using microbial electrolysis synthesis system, we were able to recover Zn, Cu, etc. from wastewaters. Demand for zinc and its production are increasing at the rates of 4.7% and 2.7% per year. At the current rate of usage, its demand will reach 2.7 times of today's demand by 2050. A maximum of only 7% contribution could be allowed from primary mining to fulfil its increased demand by 2050 and the balance of the demand must be met by secondary recovery of zinc from wastes. We have shown € 1552 can be generated from the recovery of 1 tonne of zinc in the integrated mechanical biological treatment plant of urban waste enhancing the economic margin of the plant by 4%. The microbial electrolysis synthesis technology is being trialled for Zn recovery from wastewater from the galvanisation process of Tata Steel.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrolysis synthesis technology; Manchester: Nanomaterial production; South Welsh: Scale-up; Surrey: Sustainable industrial systems; Tata Steel: Provision of wastewater samples
Impact Two peer-reviewed high impact journal publications are in progress. Tata Steel is also exploring in investing in the technology. Specific findings that can have an impact at global scale include: 1. Zinc has a current usage rate of 13.5 million tonne per year in products. 2. Secondary sources of zinc include spent batteries, steelmaking dust and MSW. 3. Primary mining causes 1.53 kg CO2 equivalent release per kg of combined metal. 4. Economics enhanced by 6 times if aluminium, copper, zinc in MSW are recovered. 5. 0.005 tonne of zinc per tonne of MSW can be recovered (UK, EU).
Start Year 2015
 
Description Zn recovery from wastewater using microbial electrosynthesis technology 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The team at Surrey University works on Life Cycle Sustainability Assessments of microbial electrochemical systems, to inform design and scale up decisions. They interact closely with industrial partners to ensure the research is relevant to real world wastewater treatment. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LSCA) is a tool to characterise and assess the environmental, economic and societal aspects of a process, which can help in decision making. For example, in choosing between different waste treatment processes to be installed at an industrial site, LCSA can be used to assess the impacts of environmental, economic and societal aspects of different waste treatment technologies. Within the EU, the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (96/61/EC) aims to prevent or minimise pollution of water, air and soil by industrial effluent and other waste from industrial installations, including energy industries, by defining basic obligations for operating licences or permits and by introducing targets, or benchmarks, for energy efficiency. The Directive on the Limitation of Emissions of Certain Pollutants into the Air from Large Combustion Plants (2001/80/EC) - has acted to limit heavy metal emissions via dust control and absorption of heavy metals. Using microbial electrolysis synthesis system, we were able to recover Zn, Cu, etc. from wastewaters. Demand for zinc and its production are increasing at the rates of 4.7% and 2.7% per year. At the current rate of usage, its demand will reach 2.7 times of today's demand by 2050. A maximum of only 7% contribution could be allowed from primary mining to fulfil its increased demand by 2050 and the balance of the demand must be met by secondary recovery of zinc from wastes. We have shown € 1552 can be generated from the recovery of 1 tonne of zinc in the integrated mechanical biological treatment plant of urban waste enhancing the economic margin of the plant by 4%. The microbial electrolysis synthesis technology is being trialled for Zn recovery from wastewater from the galvanisation process of Tata Steel.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrolysis synthesis technology; Manchester: Nanomaterial production; South Welsh: Scale-up; Surrey: Sustainable industrial systems; Tata Steel: Provision of wastewater samples
Impact Two peer-reviewed high impact journal publications are in progress. Tata Steel is also exploring in investing in the technology. Specific findings that can have an impact at global scale include: 1. Zinc has a current usage rate of 13.5 million tonne per year in products. 2. Secondary sources of zinc include spent batteries, steelmaking dust and MSW. 3. Primary mining causes 1.53 kg CO2 equivalent release per kg of combined metal. 4. Economics enhanced by 6 times if aluminium, copper, zinc in MSW are recovered. 5. 0.005 tonne of zinc per tonne of MSW can be recovered (UK, EU).
Start Year 2015
 
Description Zn recovery from wastewater using microbial electrosynthesis technology 
Organisation University of Newcastle
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The team at Surrey University works on Life Cycle Sustainability Assessments of microbial electrochemical systems, to inform design and scale up decisions. They interact closely with industrial partners to ensure the research is relevant to real world wastewater treatment. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LSCA) is a tool to characterise and assess the environmental, economic and societal aspects of a process, which can help in decision making. For example, in choosing between different waste treatment processes to be installed at an industrial site, LCSA can be used to assess the impacts of environmental, economic and societal aspects of different waste treatment technologies. Within the EU, the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (96/61/EC) aims to prevent or minimise pollution of water, air and soil by industrial effluent and other waste from industrial installations, including energy industries, by defining basic obligations for operating licences or permits and by introducing targets, or benchmarks, for energy efficiency. The Directive on the Limitation of Emissions of Certain Pollutants into the Air from Large Combustion Plants (2001/80/EC) - has acted to limit heavy metal emissions via dust control and absorption of heavy metals. Using microbial electrolysis synthesis system, we were able to recover Zn, Cu, etc. from wastewaters. Demand for zinc and its production are increasing at the rates of 4.7% and 2.7% per year. At the current rate of usage, its demand will reach 2.7 times of today's demand by 2050. A maximum of only 7% contribution could be allowed from primary mining to fulfil its increased demand by 2050 and the balance of the demand must be met by secondary recovery of zinc from wastes. We have shown € 1552 can be generated from the recovery of 1 tonne of zinc in the integrated mechanical biological treatment plant of urban waste enhancing the economic margin of the plant by 4%. The microbial electrolysis synthesis technology is being trialled for Zn recovery from wastewater from the galvanisation process of Tata Steel.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrolysis synthesis technology; Manchester: Nanomaterial production; South Welsh: Scale-up; Surrey: Sustainable industrial systems; Tata Steel: Provision of wastewater samples
Impact Two peer-reviewed high impact journal publications are in progress. Tata Steel is also exploring in investing in the technology. Specific findings that can have an impact at global scale include: 1. Zinc has a current usage rate of 13.5 million tonne per year in products. 2. Secondary sources of zinc include spent batteries, steelmaking dust and MSW. 3. Primary mining causes 1.53 kg CO2 equivalent release per kg of combined metal. 4. Economics enhanced by 6 times if aluminium, copper, zinc in MSW are recovered. 5. 0.005 tonne of zinc per tonne of MSW can be recovered (UK, EU).
Start Year 2015
 
Description Zn recovery from wastewater using microbial electrosynthesis technology 
Organisation University of South Wales
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The team at Surrey University works on Life Cycle Sustainability Assessments of microbial electrochemical systems, to inform design and scale up decisions. They interact closely with industrial partners to ensure the research is relevant to real world wastewater treatment. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LSCA) is a tool to characterise and assess the environmental, economic and societal aspects of a process, which can help in decision making. For example, in choosing between different waste treatment processes to be installed at an industrial site, LCSA can be used to assess the impacts of environmental, economic and societal aspects of different waste treatment technologies. Within the EU, the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (96/61/EC) aims to prevent or minimise pollution of water, air and soil by industrial effluent and other waste from industrial installations, including energy industries, by defining basic obligations for operating licences or permits and by introducing targets, or benchmarks, for energy efficiency. The Directive on the Limitation of Emissions of Certain Pollutants into the Air from Large Combustion Plants (2001/80/EC) - has acted to limit heavy metal emissions via dust control and absorption of heavy metals. Using microbial electrolysis synthesis system, we were able to recover Zn, Cu, etc. from wastewaters. Demand for zinc and its production are increasing at the rates of 4.7% and 2.7% per year. At the current rate of usage, its demand will reach 2.7 times of today's demand by 2050. A maximum of only 7% contribution could be allowed from primary mining to fulfil its increased demand by 2050 and the balance of the demand must be met by secondary recovery of zinc from wastes. We have shown € 1552 can be generated from the recovery of 1 tonne of zinc in the integrated mechanical biological treatment plant of urban waste enhancing the economic margin of the plant by 4%. The microbial electrolysis synthesis technology is being trialled for Zn recovery from wastewater from the galvanisation process of Tata Steel.
Collaborator Contribution Newcastle: Microbial electrolysis synthesis technology; Manchester: Nanomaterial production; South Welsh: Scale-up; Surrey: Sustainable industrial systems; Tata Steel: Provision of wastewater samples
Impact Two peer-reviewed high impact journal publications are in progress. Tata Steel is also exploring in investing in the technology. Specific findings that can have an impact at global scale include: 1. Zinc has a current usage rate of 13.5 million tonne per year in products. 2. Secondary sources of zinc include spent batteries, steelmaking dust and MSW. 3. Primary mining causes 1.53 kg CO2 equivalent release per kg of combined metal. 4. Economics enhanced by 6 times if aluminium, copper, zinc in MSW are recovered. 5. 0.005 tonne of zinc per tonne of MSW can be recovered (UK, EU).
Start Year 2015
 
Title Database created for CO2 reduction pathways and microbial electrosynthesis process synthesis 
Description 63 anodic and 72 cathodic reactions of metabolism and 9 metabolic pathways have been collated for assessing technical feasibility and life cycle triple bottom line impacts of microbial electrosynthesis systems for product generation and resource recovery from waste streams. 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Microbial electrosynthesis assisted metal recovery by metal reduction in cathode is demonstrated here, by taking a range of waste streams from various industries. The cathode can be abiotic or biotic. For majority of the metals, their reduction is thermodynamically spontaneous. Such metals include Au (III), V (V), Cr (VI), Ag (I), Cu(II), Fe (III), and Hg (II), etc. Their reduction is thermodynamically favorable, and the metals can accept electron without any external voltage application. A small amount of electricity may be generated by recovering metals present in waste streams. For some other metal recovery, e.g. Ni (II), Pb (II), Cd (II), and Zn (II), etc. an external power supply to force the electrons travel from the anode to the abiotic cathode is required, due to their lower redox potentials than the anode potentials. For those metals, Au (III), Ag (I), V (V), Cr (VI), Cu(II), Hg (II), and Fe (III) etc. shown respectively from the highest to the lowest market values, for which the redox potential is higher than the anode potential and reduction can be assisted with simultaneous electricity generation, greater than 99% recovery can be obtained except vanadium, for which the recovery is 68% compared to the amount present in the waste stream. The maximum power generated is 6.5 W per m2 for gold; for other metals the maximum power generated is lower than 6.5 W per m2. Cathodic reduction reactions which include primarily carbon dioxide reuse are shown to produce products, such as formic acid, methane, methanol, pyruvate, acetate, succinate, lactate, citrate, caproate, caprylate, butyrate, etc. are shown alongside their redox potentials. Usually, the product from the cathode is a mixture of many chemicals and can be targeted for biofuel production with desired properties, similar to crude oil refineries. This way, targeted recovery of biofuel is feasible. Bioelectrochemical oxidation of organic wastes, wastewaters, lignocellulosic wastes and their hydrolysates and stillage streams from biofuel plants as anode substrates using biotic anode harvests electron, releases proton and produces hydrogen, carbon dioxide, pyruvate, formate and fatty acids, which can be reused in cathode for chemical, bioplastic and biofuel productions. Remaining cathode substrates could be wastewaters and lignocellulosic wastes and the cathode reactions are catalytic- electro- hydrogenation, hydrodeoxygenation and reduction reactions to produce biofuel or bioplastic or chemical as the main products and hydrogen, methane, etc. as the gaseous products. The redox potential for carbon dioxide reduction and reuse in product formation in this way is lower than the anode potential, requiring external voltage or electricity. 
URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032115012678
 
Title Global Sustainability and Engineering analysis of Resource recovery Technologies (GSERT) 
Description The software developed, Global Sustainability and Engineering analysis of Resource recovery Technologies (GSERT) at Surrey, applies life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) alongside techno-economic and policy analyses for design and decision making of bioelectrochemical systems (BES) for resource recovery from wastewaters (RRfW). 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact GSERT in the current state of the art includes life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) of metal resource recoveries from waste streams. The following LCIA methods have been included in GSERT. 1. ILCD 2. CML method 3. USA Traci 4. Impact 2002+ 5. Eco-Indicator 99 The sustainability metrics included "go beyond carbon to understand waste as a resource from the perspective of ecological rather than carbon outcomes". These are: savings in primary resources (fossils, land, water and abiotic), global warming, ozone depletion, acidification, urban smog, eutrophication, aquatic and terrestric ecotoxicity; and human health related impacts: human toxicity cancerous and non-cancerous, asthma, etc., potentials. Future metrics to be included are social issues, on human rights, working conditions, community impacts and governance issues. Our vision is to give an informed holistic decision on RRfW using the software, and have a global outreach via its web-based application. The mini project obtained can enable the first proof of concept. At least two cases will be drawn, UK and Malaysia, enhancing the software with country specific policy analysis and important socio-economic and environmental metrics.