Wastewater treatment most often involves the use of biological processes to reach effluent water quality objectives. The by-product of biological treatment is a surplus biomass that is rich in microbial activity. Research has shown that it is possible to engineer biological treatment processes for both municipal and industrial wastewater to be naturally enriched with bacteria that can store an excess of biopolymers. The biopolymers are from the family of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). PHAs are biodegradable thermoplastic materials that are attractive ingredients for bioplastics.
The status of current know-how provides for an interesting opportunity of synergy to combine water quality management services with resource recovery and the realization of new biopolymer value chains in regional circular economies. Research in this theme is to build on and bridge fundamental bioprocess engineering and materials science with downstream commercial opportunities for platform chemicals and bioplastics. The theme is an incubator to reach optimal insights and strategies to produce value added biopolymers for industry in combination with the ongoing demands for increasingly more effective wastewater treatment methods.