Dr. Khosrow Farahbakhsh, P.Eng, Assistant Professor

Room 212, Thornbourgh Building. Email: khosrowf@uoguelph.ca

Although wastewater treatment operations are energy intensive, they can also be generators of energy. Energy generation from wastewater is not a new area. Conventional anaerobic treatment systems, which are used extensively for the treatment of industrial wastewater or sludge stabilization, are capable of producing substantial quantities of methane. More recently, biological hydrogen production and microbial fuel cells have been receiving considerable attention.

Microbial Fuel Cells

Biological wastewater treatment is, in essence, an oxidation-reduction process involving transfer of electrons mediated by microorganisms. Certain microorganisms, such as Geobacter sp. , are particularly efficient in mediating electron transfer. Microbial fuel cells are simply a way of intercepting the electron transfer to create an electric circuit. Organisms native to cow guts are also capable of electron transfer and as such, cow manure contains large amounts of these microorganisms. Our current research project is to develop and optimize microbial fuel cells for charging batteries using cow manure.

Currently MSc. candidate, Cairan O'Toole, is conducting his research on optimization of microbial fuel cells utilizing cow manure.

Monitoring and Removal of Siloxanes from Anaerobic Digester and Landfill Gases

Siloxanes ( common ingredients of many consumer products ) are trace contaminants that are commonly present in biogas from landfills and anaerobic digesters. When the biogas is combusted in reciprocating engines for electricity generation, siloxanes are converted to solid, inorganic silicone compounds (such as silicone oxide) and deposit on engine components, severely reducing the engine life and causing frequent engine failures. Presently no standard method is available for siloxanes and current techniques are cumbersome, time consuming and expensive.

This project is funded by the NSERC through a Collaborative Research and Development Grant with co-funding by the City of Guelph, Region of Waterloo, Conestoga-Rovers & Associates (CRA), City of Vancouver, Greater Vancouver Regional District and Maxim Power.

Currently MSc candicate, Ni (Jessica) Zhang, is conducting in this area.