Flocculants from wastewater
Imagine a world where the wastewater produced by industries (such as food, beverage, and paper industries) can be used to produce valuable products that have environmental benefits. My thesis focused on how we can better make use of our industrial wastewaters. Bacteria are used to treat wastewater by degrading the organic pollutants in water. These bacteria feed on these organics to grow, but even more importantly, they excrete slimy stick stuff called extracellular polymers (giant molecules!). This is quite similar to the way we sweat as humans. These excreted polymers can be used for several applications, such as to remove particles and heavy metals from water. For my thesis, I investigated these polymers and how they can be applied. The produced polymers are biodegradable, not toxic to humans and the environment unlike the fossil-based counterparts, are cheap, and their production contributes to a circular economy.