PhD student (GOLEM project)
My research project aims to treat contaminated finely-grained materials from street-sweeping residues and canal dredging sediments collected in the Brussels area. Both forms of waste contain a large clay-silt fraction well known for its association with problematic substances, like heavy metals (HM) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),…). Electro-bio-catalysis is implemented to decontaminate such waste, by the simultaneous microbial reductive dechlorination of PCBs (at the cathode, made of stainless steel) and the oxidation of aliphatic hydrocarbons and PAHs (at the anode, made of platinum oxide and iridium). The evolution of the system is monitored by multiple in situ measurements, including potential-current relationship, pH, pollutant concentration, gas production, total organic matter content, and microbial community composition and activity (with a particular focus on dehalogenating bacteria such as Dehalococcoides spp.). The specific influence of the source inoculum, and the addition of (an) easily degradable carbon source(s), biosurfactants, laccase enzymes and/or redox mediators is analysed.