Relevant research disciplines and chair groups are biotechnology, microbiology, colloid and surface chemistry, organic chemistry, chemical technology, physical technology, etc. On technology development we have an intensive co-operation within the field of the Biobased Economy in the cluster Biobased Science and Technology containing 5 other departments. We also consider the societal needs and the impact of our work as an important field of study. We co-operate on these issues with other departments at Wageningen University & Research, such as Environmental Policy, Environmental Systems Analysis, Environmental Economy, Sociology of Consumers and Households, and Management Studies.
The research projects are divided in three themes:
- Recovery of minerals
Phosphorus, Potassium and Nitrogen can be recovered from waste streams for fertilizer products. Many metals become scarce resources which makes extraction from waste streams economically feasible.
- Sustainable energy
Biomass from algae, wood, organic waste etc. equals stored solar energy. In the biobased economy of the near future energy and chemicals now retrieved from oil will be largely recovered from biomass (residuals). Energy can also be retrieved from water systems such as blue energy, in which electricity is obtained from mixing fresh and sea water.
- Water technology
Through membrane bioreactors and anaerobic biotechnologies, organic matter in waste water is converted into biogas. For a healthy water cycle, medicines, other micro-pollutants, pathogenic microorganisms, and salts need to be removed. Industrial chemicals in groundwater and sediments contacting surface waters are biologically or chemically biodegraded or immobilised. Groundwater is also an energy supplier through Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage