Anaerobic digestion is a proven technology that can convert organic waste and high-strength wastewater into biomethane. Our ultimate goal is to improve its process kinetics. To develop a sustainable and high-rate anaerobic digestion process, we explore different strategies, including pre-treatment of feedstock, electrochemically assisted digestion, co-digestion of complementary waste streams, and resource recovery from digestate. Our research also focuses on direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET), a recently discovered microbial syntrophy in the anaerobic microbiome.
Microbial Electrochemical Technologies
Microbial electrochemical systems and technologies combine the metabolism of bacteria with electrochemistry to capture electrons from biodegradable organic matters in waste or wastewater. This unique feature allows us to manipulate the recovered electrons into electric power or other value-added products, such as hydrogen gas, methane, industrial chemicals, etc. We are interested in understanding microbial and electrochemical kinetics, microbial syntrophic interactions, and ultimately developing scalable microbial electrochemical systems for field application. Our research team is also developing a microbial electrochemical cell-based biosensor for real-time monitoring of organic contaminants in oil sands process water.
The Dhar Lab combines principles of environmental biotechnology and physicochemical processes to study the fate of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminants in oil-sands tailings, leading to successful techniques for remediation of contaminants and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.