Process for converting waste, effluents and organic by-products in recyclable materials

  • uacoopera
  • From Portugal
  • Responsive
  • Patents for licensing

Summary of the technology

A group of researchers from a Portuguese university has developed a biological process to treat waste, effluents and organic by-products with industrial origin characterized by high biodegradability that adds value to conventional biological treatment processes, integrating their assumptions on the concept of biorefinery.

The invention aims to reduce by 96% the organic matter content of the starting substrate allowing generally meet the discharge criteria set out in the legislation.

Main advantages of its use

The present invention has the following advantages over existing technologies:

- Biological treatment with energetics and material recovery (integrated biorefinery and treatment concept);

- Low-cost production of PHA using mixed and operated in sterile conditions substrates;

- Technology framed in circular economy concept ("recycling" of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus);

- High operational robustness to load shocks and seasonality of production and composition of organic substrates.


This process consists in a series of stages in biological reactors operated with mixed cultures in non-sterile conditions, in particular fotorreactor, anaerobic reactor (acidogenic / methanogenic), discontinuous sequential aerobic reactor and discontinuous aerobic reactor. This process allows us to valorize waste, effluents and organic by-products through the production of chemical precursors (volatile organic acids) and of biodegradable polymers like polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). Additionally, energetically recoverable materials (methane, hydrogen and lipids usable in the production of biodiesel) are produced, and the gas streams generated with potential greenhouse effect (carbon dioxide) are largely sequestered by the process itself, simultaneously with the nitrogen and phosphorus that may be present in the substrates. As the PHA monomer composition is one of the most important aspects to be considered in its commercial value, the invention allows to handle the hydroxyvalerate content of the copolymer produced by manipulating the composition of the substrates during the acidogenic stage. In addition, the microbial culture selection strategy presented in this invention allows to obtain a culture with a high polymer accumulation capacity (36% of dry cell weight), robust and well adapted to organic loading shocks and seasonal variations in the composition of the substrate. The stimulation of the accumulation capacity of biomass results in obtaining PHA up to 53% relative to the cell dry weight.


  • Application for wastewater treatment plants for waste, effluents and organic by-products treatment, including municipal waste and manufacturing industries such as food processing and bioplastics.

Intellectual property status

Patent pending.

Current development status

Laboratorial tested.

Desired business relationship

Intelectual property rights licensing and / or further joint development.

Related Keywords

  • Waste Management
  • Water Management
  • Process optimisation, waste heat utilisation
  • Wastewater Recycling
  • Recycling, Recovery
  • Environmental Engineering / Technology
  • Industrial Water Treatment
  • Municipal Water Treatment
  • Water Resources Management
  • Process automation
  • Plant Design and Maintenance
  • Plastics, Polymers
  • Materials Technology
  • Food Processing
  • Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems
  • Water, sewerage, chemical and solid waste treatment plants
  • Pollution and Recycling Related
  • Chemicals and Materials
  • Polymer (plastics) materials
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Processes for working with plastics
  • waste effluents
  • recyclable materials
  • organic by-products
  • waste
  • wastewater

About uacoopera

The University of Aveiro is a young and innovative university, which fosters entrepreneurship and technology and knowledge transfer, with expertise in a wide range of knowledge areas namely IT, Life Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Health, Environmental Sciences), Nanotechnology and Materials Science, Mechanics, Physics, Mathematics, Building, Design and Management. uacoopera is the Technology Transfer Office of University of Aveiro. This office engages in value adding activities such as start-up and spin-off creation, support to university-industry cooperation (sponsored research and consultancy services), IP protection and prosecution, licensing, marketing, among others. It covers four main interrelated functional areas – Intellectual Property Management, Licensing, Entrepreneurship, and Industry Liaison.


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