Ahmed Kutbi

PhD Student
Project title: Investigation into best available techniques for the safe treatment of effluent and sludge from a pharmaceutical wastewater treatment plant

Wastewater originated from antibiotic production facilities are challenging for wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operators to achieve successful biological treatment and to meet the emission limits[1] proposed by the Industrial Emission Directive (2010/75/EU). Antibiotic production wastewaters are characterised by high concentrations of suspended solids and organic substances, which impacts the quality of the effluents from biological WWTP in terms of concentrations of chemical oxygen demand (COD), suspended solids (SS), total organic carbon (TOC) and total nitrogen (TN). TN is of concern as nitrogen N has been linked to eutrophication of coastal waters. . The wastewater generated from fermentative production facilities is high organic substances (i.e. waste fungal cell wall). Fungal cell wall constitutes of a glucan matrix, proteins and biopolymers such as: Chitin. Chitin is a natural biopolymer found in marine invertebrates, insects, cell walls of fungi and microorganisms. It is also a source of carbon and nitrogen, which plays an important role in the marine environment.

The objective of this study is to develop a methodology to quantitate chitin and its monomer (glucosamine) in WWTP. The importance of this is twofold (1) to understand the fate of chitin in the WWTP and its impact on the overall treatment process (2) to help operators the regulator (SEPA) in setting emission limits.