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Sustainability News

March 11, 2021

Researchers at the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology and their colleagues have been awarded the 2021 Rudolph Hering Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Their lauded study describes new approaches to rid ecosystems of a dangerous chlorinated chemical known as trichloroethene.

The prestigious award recognizes the best paper of the preceding year from the Journal of Environmental Engineering. Sustainability scientists Bruce Rittmann and Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown are among the authors of the paper, entitled Modeling Trichloroethene Reduction, Methanogenesis, and Homoacetogenesis in a H2-Based Biofilm.

Read more on the Biodesign website. The paper's abstract follows.

Homoacetogenesis and methanogenesis, which usually occur during anaerobic trichloroethene (TCE) dechlorination, affect the removal of TCE and its daughter products. This study develops a one-dimensional, multispecies H2-based biofilm model to simulate the interactions among six solid biomass species—Dehalococcoides, Geobacter, methanogens, homoacetogens, inert biomass (IB), and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)—and 10 dissolved chemical species—TCE, dichloroethene (DCE), vinyl chloride (VC), ethene, hydrogen (H2), methane, acetate, bicarbonate, utilization associated products (UAP), and biomass associated products (BAP). To evaluate and parameterize the model, parameter values from the literature were input into the model to simulate conditions reported for an experiment. The biomass species distribution in the biofilm and the chemical species concentrations in the reactor effluent at a steady state were generally consistent between the experiments and the model. The predicted 15-μm biofilm consisted of three layers, each dominated by a different active biomass type: homoacetogens in the layer next to the membrane, Geobacter in the biofilm surface layer (next to the water), and Dehalococcoides in-between.