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Research Areas

Our group is primarily interested in biological waste/wastewater treatment technologies, particularly anaerobic bioprocesses producing valuable products from waste. Such "waste-to-energy" technologies are gaining increasing attention as a solution to energy and environmental crisis we are facing today. Performance of a bioprocess is basically decided by the activity of microorganisms involved. Therefore, a good understanding of microbial community behavior is a key to a better design and control of a bioprocess. We are especially interested in exploring how microbes function and interact in environmental bioprocesses and how the process performance is influenced by their activities, using advanced molecular techniques. Such attempts correlating microbial changes and performance changes in different bioprocesses will in the future provide basic and useful information for fundamental enhancement of bioprocess performance beyond tvhe limits of trial-and-error approaches. Although it is not a simple job to fully understand a complex, mixed-culture ecosystem, we look forward to the moment when the "Black box" becomes transparent.

Research interests

  • Anaerobic bioconversion of waste to valuable products: biogas (CH4 and H2), organic acids, and alcohols
  • Bioelectrochemical systems converting off-gas to valuable chemicals
  • Biological nutrient removal and recovery from waste: nitrogen, phosphorus, and metals
  • Microbial community diversity and dynamics in environmental bioprocesses

On-going research topics

  • Energy self-sufficient sewage treatment system
  • High-rate anaerobic digestion with metal-reducing bacteria augmentation
  • Biological causes and effects of reactor souring in anaerobic digestion of high-strength organic wastes
  • New bioreactor designs using industrial waste materials as filter media