Study on the fate of viruses in wastewater and sludge treatment using membrane bioreactors and anaerobic digestion within the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic

Vaneeckhaute, Céline | $50,000

Quebec Université Laval 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

This research aims at better understanding the fate of viruses in wastewater treatment process chains using membrane bioreactors combined with anaerobic digestion for sludge treatment within the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic. To this end, sampling and characterization of process flows will be performed and the impact of operational conditions on process performance will be studied. The resulting data will be used to mathematically describe virus inactivation throughout the treatment process, which may allow to optimize the design and operational settings of the technology. Moreover, membrane integrity testing will be performed to eventually identify critical control points and set critical control limits for the process chain to meet its minimum design log removal value for viruses, thereby assuring public health and safety. Following completion of this project, the partner organization, H2O Innovation, can use the results either to improve the performance of its technology regarding the removal of viruses, either to provide evidence of the technology’s removal capacity and hence improve the social acceptability of their resource recovery and recycling processes. Moreover, the company will have insights in the importance of membrane integrity testing to assure public health and safety, thereby allowing to implement integrity test strategies at their existing wastewater treatment sites and as such become more competitive in the marketplace. All of this may eventually lead to significant economic benefits for H2O Innovation, as well as social, health and environmental benefits for Canada. The results produced in this study can also be of interest to other companies in Canada or abroad establishing circular economy strategies in the water and waste treatment sector, including technology providers and consultants.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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