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Biological treatment of contaminated matrices

Keywords: biodegradation, biostimulation, bioreactors, microbial immobilization, modeling

The aim of the research line is to develop innovative biotechnological processes for the decontamination of soils, sediments, groundwaters and wastewaters contaminated by chlorinated and non-chlorinated hydrocarbons and by polimeric compounds. The decontamination is attained either by stimulating the indigenous microbial population of the contaminated matrix (with the possible addition of a suitable growth substrate for cometabolic processes), or by introducting in the contaminated matrix microbial populations specialized in the degradation of the target pollutants (bioaugmentation).

The main aspects of the research approach are:

  1. the enrichment and selection of indigenous microbial cultures, capable to degrade the target pollutants;
  2. the biochemical, physiological, kinetic and phylogenetic characterization, of the microbial cultures;
  3. the design, development, optimization and scale-up of the biodegradation process;
  4. the evaluation of the process through an integrated chemical, microbiological, molecular-biological and ecotoxicological monitoring;
  5. the fluid-dynamic and kinetic modeling of the process, and its further optimization on the basis of the results obtained.

The main goals of the research are:

  • to develop immobilized-biomass processes in packed bed reactors, for the decontamination of ground- and waste-waters contaminated by non-ionic synthetic surfactants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorobenzoic acids, phenols and chlorinated solvents;
  • to develop innovative bioreactors and advanced biodegradation strategies (use of biogenous mobilizing agents to increase pollutant bioavailability; bioaugmentation; cometabolism with pulsed feed of growth substrate) for the decontamination of soils;
  • to detect, characterize and stimulate the microbial degradation of chlorinated and non-chlorinated organic pollutants in anaerobic sediments;
  • to verify the applicability and the effectiveness of the proposed biodegradation approach to the treatment of rain waters collected from streets and industrial areas, by studying the pilot-scale application of the process in Sequencing Batch Reactors.

Main publications

Frascari D., Fraraccio S., Nocentini M., Pinelli D. (2013). Aerobic / anaerobic / aerobic sequenced biodegradation of a mixture of chlorinated ethenes, ethanes and methanes in batch bioreactors. Bioresource Technology 128, 479-486.

Zanaroli G., Balloi A., Negroni A., Borruso L., Daffonchio D., Fava F. (2012). A Chloroflexi bacterium dechlorinates polychlorinated biphenyls in marine sediments under in situ-like biogeochemical conditions. Journal of Hazardous Materials 209-210, 449-457.

Zanaroli G., Negroni A., Vignola M., Nuzzo A., Shu H. – Y., Fava F. (2012). Enhancement of microbial reductive dechlorination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in a marine sediment by nanoscale zerovalent iron (NZVI) particles. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology 87, 1246-1253.

Ciavarelli R., Cappelletti M., Fedi S., Pinelli D., Frascari D. (2012). Chloroform aerobic cometabolism by butane-growing Rhodococcus aetherovorans BCP1 in continuous-flow biofilm reactors. Bioprocess Biosystems Engineering 35, 667-681.

Frascari D., Cappelletti M., Fedi S., Verbaschi A., Ciavarelli R., Nocentini M., Pinelli D. (2012). Application of the growth substrate pulsed feeding technique to a process of chloroform aerobic cometabolism in a continuous-flow sand-filled reactor. Process Biochemistry 47, 1656-1664.

Zanaroli G., Balloi A., Negroni A., Daffonchio D., Young L.Y., Fava F. (2010). Characterization of the microbial community from the marine sediment of the Venice lagoon capable of reductive dechlorination of coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Journal of Hazardous Materials 178, 417 - 426.

Zanaroli G., Di Toro S., Todaro D., Varese G.C., Bertolotto A., Fava F. (2010). Characterization of two diesel fuel degrading microbial consortia enriched from a non-acclimated, complex source of microorganisms. Microbial Cell Factories 9, 10.

Luccarini L., Bragadin G.L., Colombini G., Mancini M., Mello P., Montali M., Sottara D. (2010). Formal verification of wastewater treatment processes using events detected from continuous signals by means of artificial neural networks. Case study: SBR plant, International Review: Environmental Modelling & Software. Thematic issue on modelling and automation water and wastewater treatment processes 25, 648-660.

Di Gioia D., Sciubba L., Bertin L., Barberio C., Salvatori L., Frassinetti S., Fava F. (2009). Nonylphenol polyethoxylate degradation in aqueous waste by the use of batch and continuous biofilm bioreactors. Water Research 43, 2977 - 2988.

Occulti F., Camera Roda G., Berselli S., Fava F.. (2008). Sustainable decontamination of an actual site aged PCB polluted soil through a biosurfactant-based washing followed by a photocatalytic treatment. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 99, 1525 - 1534.

Research projects

EU Project FP7-KBBE-2012-3.5-02 ID 312100: BIOCLEAN (Novel biotechnological approaches for biodegrading and promoting the environmental biotransformation of synthetic polymeric materials).

EU Project EU FP7-KBBE-2012-3.5-01 ID 312139: KILL SPILL (Integrated biotechnological solutions for combating oil spills).

EU Project EU FP7-KBBE-2010-4 ID 265946: MINOTAURUS (Microorganism and enzyme Immobilization: novel techniques and approaches for upgraded remediation of underground-, wastewater and soil).

EU Project EU Project FP7-KBBE-2010-4 ID 266473: ULIXES (Unravelling and exploiting Mediterranean Sea microbial diversity and ecology for xenobiotics’ and pollutants’ clean up).

PRIN 2008: Novel processes for the sustainable remediation of groundwater contaminated by chlorinated compounds.