Research team

Expertise

marine microbiology and ecology biogeochemistry oceanography climate change and global change citizen science

Unraveling the molecular core of conductivity in cable-bacteria nanowires for circular bioelectronics (ReNiStor). 01/05/2024 - 30/04/2026

Abstract

Achieving sustainability and circularity in electronicsis a grand societal challenge that requires urgent action. The production of electrical components is energy intensive and puts a burden on the environment and resources. E-waste represents the world's largest growing waste-stream and is increasing through "Internet of Things". Microbially produced, bio-based electronics provide a promising sustainable alternative, which can be produced from renewable feedstocks and provides better biodegradation and can be extensively tuned with genetic or chemical modifications. Cable-bacteria are unique class of sediment dwelling, sulphate-oxidizing microbes, whose lifestyle has evolved entirely around long range (cm scale) conductivity. Amongst conductive materials in biology, the conductive cores in the periplasmic fibres of cable-bacteria show the highest conductivity by a wide margin and should form a primary starting point for bioelectronics design. Apart from tentative models on the fibre structure, little is known on the molecular basis and mechanism behind their conductivity, which seems to revolve around an entirely novel Ni/S cofactor. To understand the mechanism behind this remarkable biological conductivity, ReNiStor (Responsible electronics from Nickel Sulphur cofactor) aims to investigate the molecular composition of the novel cofactor, as well as it's coordination chemistry and its oxidation state. By integrating orthogonal high-end spectroscopic techniques, mass spectrometric methods and chemical imaging, the identity of the conductive molecule and its role in within the fibres will be analyzed, so that it can be subsequently produced in vitro or form a template for the design of new biomolecules. This innovation will clear the path for electronics to make the essential transition from the fossil-based to the bio-based economy, enabling radically new production and recycling pathways.

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Project type(s)

  • Research Project

Electric natural entryways (ENTER). 01/04/2024 - 31/03/2026

Abstract

The reach of biological electron transport (ET) increased from nm to cm with the discovery of cable bacteria that do ET via highly conductive fibres along their filaments. Their extremely long distance ET electrically connects 1000s of cells and influences redox cycling. Other bacteria interact with this electric highway via interspecies ET. A visual version: flocking, where aerobes use cables to breathe oxygen in its absence. Flockers dump electrons on intermediates, electron shuttles, which cables recycle. Since their discovery, cable bacteria sparked interest for green, biodegradable electronics. Flocking suggests that we can access the electric fibre without damaging it. Cables must have a natural electric entryway, to upload electrons from shuttles onto the fibres. ENTER aims to map this. We combine Prof Meysman's expertise on cable bacteria fibres with mine on flocker-cable bacteria interactions to: 1) Identify the electron shuttle by extensive electrochemical characterization of flockers (isolated in my PhD), map their ability to generate electricity, and find shuttle production potential in the genomes. 2) Advance models to find entryway protein sequences in closed cable bacteria genomes (from the host). 3) Localize the entryways on the filament and activate them using correlative light and electron microscopy with labelled shuttles and Raman microscopy. ENTER will provide new insights into the functioning of electric ecosystems and electric microbes. It will offer novel perspectives on redox and electron flow in natural systems. For example, oxygen breathing way beyond its presence will affect CO2 burying and sequestration in the seafloor. ENTERs impact, not limited to natural systems, will also inspire new insights for engineered systems (microbial fuel cells, contaminant biodegradation). It could provide critical stepping stones for promising alternatives in new green electronics.

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  • Research Project

Small animals with a big impact: how bioturbators counteract climate change. 01/03/2024 - 28/02/2025

Abstract

In this project, we propose to determine how animals in the seafloor affect the production of alkalinity and thereby impact the ocean's ability to take up CO2 from the atmosphere.The goal of this project is to measure the alkalinity production in ponds with and without bioturbators, with the objective to determine the effect of bioturbation on the sedimentary alkalinity production. Commonly, geochemical effects of bioturbation are measured in sediment that has previously been defaunated, with impacts on the sediment chemistry. We will use salt marsh ponds as a natural laboratory, comparing permanently unbioturbated and bioturbated ponds, allowing a detailed investigation of the alkalinity generation. The results from this study will be important for marine management, to preserve the ecosystem service comprised of sedimentary alkalinity production and subsequent atmospheric CO2 removal.

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  • Research Project

New conductive biomaterials for urban mining of e-waste. 01/01/2024 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

E-waste is the world's fastest growing waste stream and much of it is handled unsafely, causing pollution, human health hazards, and the loss of valuable finite resources. Improving the collection, treatment and recycling of e-waste is an utmost urban challenge. Urban mining offers ways to substantially improve e-waste management by chemical or physical processing (recovering rare-earth and high-value elements and safeguarding toxic compounds). Although this technology is currently available, there are few facilities active, as the high energy and performance costs form an obstacle. The main problem is that electronic devices are strongly physically integrated, so electronic components are extremely hard to detach and separate. Development of bio-gradable materials that enable controlled disassembly could be a game changing development in urban mining, drastically simplifying the separation and reuse/recycling of electronic components. NeCoBi aims to develop an new, safe, eco-friendly, conductive adhesive that enables easy disassembly of electronic devices into parts. The principal innovation is that the material is a bio-based adhesive. The technology is based on the recent discovery of highly conductive proteins in marine cable bacteria, which provides an entirely new platform for the creation of advanced green electronic materials. NeCoBi aims to tackle a critical R&D step in the development of the new conductive adhesive, by assessing its functional behavior under relevant conditions. To this end, we will combine advanced physical and electrical characterization, combined with detailed chemical modelling. As a proof of concept, we will develop a demo in collaboration with local maker communities. NeCoBi will hence provide a crucial step towards clean, non-expensive and reliable e-waste management, and thus could have societal, economic, and ecological impact.

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  • Research Project

Integrating innovative ways of coastal carbon drawdown into marine engineering applications (Blue Alkalinit). 01/01/2024 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

Technologies that target deliberate carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere (so-called CDR approaches) are actively investigated as a strategy to limit global warming. Substantial amounts of CDR are needed to reach climate stabilization, and the demand for CDR-based carbon credits is rapidly expanding. One promising marine CDR technique is ocean alkalinization, which is an ocean-based CDR and aims to stimulate the marine sequestration of atmospheric CO2 by increasing the alkalinity of marine surface waters. A principal advantage over other CDR technologies is that ocean alkalinization counteracts ocean acidification, thus contributing to the restoration of marine ecosystems. Coastal sediments provide a substantial natural contribution to the ocean's alkalinity budget, and here we will investigate how this natural process can be amplified (the Blue Alkalinity concept). To this end, we will investigate new, innovative coastal ocean alkalinization (COA) techniques and examine how they can be integrated in ongoing marine engineering applications (e.g., capital and maintenance dredging and disposal, wind farms an energy islands, coastal defence and beach nourishment, coastal ecosystem restoration and blue carbon projects). Several R&D bottlenecks will be tackled. Although model studies show the feasibility of COA, there has been no detailed assessment of the CO2-sequestration efficiency or environmental impacts, which are two bottlenecks for actual implementation. In this project, we will combine experiments and modelling to investigate the potential of COA under natural settings. Additionally, we will examine how COA can be integrated with existing technology into ongoing coastal management programs, thus enabling scalability and rapid valorisation.

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  • Research Project

The impact of macrofauna and microbiota on silicate weathering in coastal sediments. 01/11/2023 - 31/10/2026

Abstract

Enhanced silicate weathering (ESW) is an approach that targets for the deliberate removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere in order to reach the targets of the Paris climate agreement. During chemical weathering of silicate minerals, a dissolution process is initiated, which binds CO2 from the atmosphere in aqueous form. Hence, by introducing fast-weathering silicate minerals in locations with high weathering rates, like the coastal zone, one could potentially create a CO2 sink. One important assumption is that silicate weathering in natural coastal sediments could be substantially promoted by local biota. Macrofauna can stimulate silicate weathering through deposit feeding activities and bio-irrigation. Microbiota can stimulate silicate weathering through metabolic dissolution and acidification of the pore water. Here we will examine this "benthic weathering engine" hypothesis via dedicated microcosm and mesocosm experiments and by field investigations at sites with intense natural silicate weathering. The research proposed will provide insights into the role of biota in current day global cycling of carbon and silicon, while at the same time, it will help quantifying the CO2 sequestration potential and ecosystem impact of CO2 drawdown approaches that are urgently needed for climate stabilization.

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  • Research Project

Marine carbon dioxide drawdown via enhanced carbonate dissolution in coastal sediments. 01/11/2023 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

Ocean alkalinization is a climate stabilization technique that increases the buffer capacity of the ocean, thereby storing additional atmospheric CO2 in the form of dissolved inorganic carbon. Despite the pressing climate challenge, research on ocean alkalinization remains in an early stage. Here we want to investigate a new form of ocean alkalinization: coastal enhanced carbonate dissolution. The dissolution of carbonate minerals in coastal and shelf sediments provides an important source of alkalinity to the ocean. By deliberately introducing fast-weathering carbonate minerals into the coastal zone, one could create a CO2 sink. The geochemical basis is firmly established: enhanced carbonate dissolution forms a natural response of the marine carbon cycle towards elevated CO2. Furthermore, enhanced carbonate dissolution holds a principal advantage over other CO2 drawdown technologies as it also counteracts ocean acidification and it can be directly integrated into existing coastal management programs, like dredging and other marine engineering operations. So far, there has been no rigorous assessment of the CO2-sequestration efficiency of enhanced carbonate dissolution. Here, we will conduct a set of flowthrough reactor and mesocosm experiments to investigate enhanced carbonate weathering in coastal environments, develop novel modelling tools to assess the efficiency of CO2 removal under realistic natural settings and identify promising locations in the coastal ocean.

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  • Research Project

Alkalinity production and consumption in coastal ecosystems and the corresponding impact on atmospheric CO2. 01/10/2023 - 30/09/2026

Abstract

To reach the targets of the Paris climate agreement, we need to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. One promising carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technique is ocean alkalinisation, which aims to increase the ocean's uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere by adding alkalinity. Coastal sediments provide a substantial natural contribution to the ocean's alkalinity budget, and so they are prime locations for applying ocean alkalinisation techniques. However, the processes generating alkalinity in coastal sediments and their interactions are understudied, which limits our ability to predict the effects of ocean alkalinisation. Conversely, there are also strong indications that human activities, such as dredging and trawling, decrease the natural alkalinity production, thus counteracting any ocean alkalinisation attempts. This project aims to improve the understanding of natural alkalinity-generating processes in coastal systems, determine how they are affected by human activities and assess whether they can be enhanced to achieve ocean alkalinisation. To this end, we will combine field sampling, experimental laboratory incubations and geochemical modelling. This project will thus provide a first insight into how sedimentary alkalinity production is affected by human activities such as dredging and trawling and explore potential novel nature-based mechanisms for ocean alkalinisation as a CDR technique.

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  • Research Project

Real-time and spatially distributed monitoring of microclimate. 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

Recently, climate change impacts have become strikingly tangible, with prolonged periods of drought, and temperature and precipitation records being broken. These weather extremes strongly impact soil ecosystem services, with potentially important economic consequences for agriculture, nature conservation, garden maintenance and other sectors. Society increasingly needs to cope with these impacts, thus spurring new economic activities that demand large-scale heat and drought monitoring. In this PhD project, I will pioneer cost-effective approaches for large soil microclimate networks that involve 1,000s of monitoring locations. These allow to assess the vulnerability of soil ecosystems to heat and drought, and verify whether implemented adaptation measures are effective (e.g. water infiltration and soil moisture buffering). As a proof of concept, extensive microclimate networks will be deployed in gardens and nature reserves across Flanders, taking advantage of the new TMS-NB sensor, which enables low-cost and real-time measurements of soil temperature and moisture through the Internet of Things. This new data source will allow identifying the drivers of spatiotemporal variability in microclimate along the urban-rural gradient. Novel software tools will be developed for the data streams originating from these sensor networks, thus making the resulting data and insights readily available to relevant societal actors (e.g. farmers, garden maintenance, nature reserve managers).

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  • Research Project

Highly conductive protein fibers as a radically new technological material. 01/10/2022 - 30/09/2026

Abstract

A prominent societal challenge is to ensure that electronic technology becomes more sustainable, and hence, material scientists are looking for radical alternatives to the electronic materials currently in use. Recent discoveries show that bacteria can produce "conductive silk", i.e., protein nanofibers with a high conductivity rivaling that of the most performant semi-conductor materials. This brings a long-time dream of material scientists within reach: to combine the unique traits of proteins fibers (flexible, lightweight, biocompatible, biodegradable, self-assembling) with high electronic functionality. The principal technological challenge is to produce these protein fibers in a controlled and scalable way. The goal of this FWO-SBO project is to mimic the self-assembly of these protein nanofibers under controlled in vitro conditions, allowing scalable recombinant production of conductive protein fibers in "microbial factories". To this end, we will develop pathways for synthetic self-assemblage of microbial conductive proteins as well as procedures for tuning the electronic properties of these synthetic protein fibers. As a proof of concept, we will integrate our custom-crafted synthetic conductive protein fibers into a simplified biodegradable electronic device. Our long-term technological vision is to achieve a radically new class of electronic materials that are bio-based. These so-called "proteonic fiber materials" will allow far more sustainable production and recycling pathways, thus creating major breakthroughs towards a circular and carbon-neutral economy (e.g. by reducing e-waste). Proteonic fiber materials have the potential to revolutionize applications in health care (electronic skin patches, metal-free implants), textile (smart clothing), packaging industry (biodegradable RFID tags), and environmental protection (dissolving bio-sensors).

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  • Research Project

Protein-based next generation electronics (PRINGLE). 01/05/2022 - 30/04/2026

Abstract

Recently, an entirely novel type of bacteria has been discovered that can guide high electrical currents over centimeterlong distances through long, thin fibers embedded in the cell envelope. Recent studies by PRINGLE consortium members reveal that these protein fibers possess extraordinarRecently, an entirely novel type of bacteria has been discovered that can guide high electrical currents over centimeter-long distances through long, thin fibers embedded in the cell envelope. Recent studies by PRINGLE consortium members reveal that these protein fibers possess extraordinary electrical properties, including an electrical conductivity that exceeds that of any known biological material by orders of magnitude. The ambition of PRINGLE is to unlock the vast technological potential of this newly discovered biomaterial. To this end, we propose to utilize custom-crafted protein structures as elementary active and passive components in a new generation of biocompatible and biodegradable electronic devices. The resulting long-term technological vision is to establish a radically new type of electronics (PROTEONICS) that is entirely bio-based and CO2 neutral, and in which protein components can provide different all types of electronic functionality. PRINGLE will provide the fundamental and technological basis for PROTEONICS by (1) developing fabrication and patterning technologies for proteonic materials and nanostructures, (2) tuning the electronic properties of these proteonic materialsin a fit-for-purpose manner, and (3) integrating proteonic materials as functional components into all-protein electronic devices. As such, PRINGLEbased technology could provide a significant breakthrough towards next generation electronics applications in a circular economy, opening entirely new avenues for interfacing biological systems with electronics and allowing completely new sustainable production and recycling pathways for electronic components.

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  • Research Project

The electrical ecosystem: cable bacteria and associated partner microorganisms 01/11/2021 - 31/10/2025

Abstract

Long filamentous cable bacteria are capable of generating and mediating electricity over centimeter-scale distances, thus extending the known length scale of biological electron transport by three orders of magnitude. Up until present, research efforts have concentrated on the cable bacteria themselves, yet recent data provide indications of a tight coupling between cable bacteria and associated microorganisms. Possible interactions include a mutualistic exchange of metabolic substrates (classical syntrophy) or, more intriguingly, indirect and direct mechanisms such as direct interspecies electron transfer or electron shuttles. In this project we will investigate the presence and nature of such interactions. Our hypothesis is that long-distance electron transport in aquatic sediments is not exclusively mediated by cable bacteria, but could involve a consortium of cable bacteria and associated partner microbes. Field sampling in marine and brackish environments will be combined with targeted incubation experiments in the laboratory. Next generation sequencing methods and microscopy will be applied, and correlation analysis will unravel associations between cable bacteria and other microbes. Metatranscriptomes will shed light on potential electric or metabolic interactions. The project will improve our understanding of electrogenic sediments, with potentially important implications for sediment biogeochemistry and microbial ecology.

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  • Research Project

Unraveling electrical ecosystems: insight into microbial communities powered by electrical currents. 01/11/2021 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

A decade ago a unique electrical microbial metabolism was discovered in the seafloor that is revolutionizing our long-held views of biogeochemistry and microbial ecosystems. These multicellular microbes are referred to as "cable bacteria", as they transport electrical currents over long distances, much like electricity cables. Cable bacteria form dense networks in the environment that drastically change the geochemical makeup of the seafloor. This electricity-based metabolism sidesteps the traditional "redox ladder" and thus questions the current knowledge of how oxidation-reduction reactions occur in natural systems. Interestingly, cable bacteria appear to not work alone, but rather engage in electrical interactions with other microbes. The associated microbes are hypothesized to use the filaments as an "electron highway" by exchanging electrons with the cable bacteria. Such a cooperation allows microbes to access electron sinks (or sources) centimeters away via the cable bacteria filament. This research aims to provide insight into this new form of microbial cooperation and the underlying mechanisms that drive the "electrical ecosystem". A multidisciplinary approach combining molecular biology, geochemistry and inventive cultivation systems is proposed.

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  • Research Project

Enviromics - Integrated Technologies in EcoSystems 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

Enviromics is a multidisciplinary consortium of UAntwerpen researchers across the board of environmental sciences and technologies. Through impactful fundamental advances and interdisciplinary approaches across biology, (bio)chemistry and (bio)engineering, the consortium offers bio based solutions to ecosystem challenges by a strong interaction between three pillars (i) Environmental applications and nature based solutions, (ii) Sensing and analysis of chemicals and environments and (iii) Microbial technology and biomaterials, supported by sustainable product development and technology assessment. Through a renewed and tighter focus the ENVIROMICS consortium now signs for a leaner and more dynamic shape. Through intensified collaborations with different stakeholders, both national and international, the leverage for creating enhanced business and societal impact is reinforced. The consortium is strongly managed by a team of two highly profiled researchers partnered by an IOF manager and a project manager with clearly defined tasks and in close contact with the consortium members and the central Valorisation Unit of the university. The consortium has a strong and growing IP position, mainly on environmental/electrochemical sensing and microbial probiotics, two key points of the research and applications program. One spinoff was created in 2017 and two more will be setup in the coming three years. The direct interaction with product developers ensures delivering high TRL products. Next to a growing portfolio of industrial contracts, we create tangible societal impact, when relevant including citizen science approaches. Through the stronger leverage created by the new structure and partnerships we will develop both intertwined branches significantly.

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  • Research Project

Quantitative modelling of negative emissions through coastal enhanced silicate weathering. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

The societal challenge of limiting global warming to <2°C by 2100 cannot be achieved by reducing fossil fuel emissions alone (i.e. traditional mitigation), but requires that CO2 is actively captured from the atmosphere via negative emission technologies (NETs). Enhanced silicate weathering (ESW) is a promising candidate NET that uses the natural process of silicate weathering for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. By deliberately introducing fast-weathering silicate minerals into the coastal zone, one could create a coastal CO2 sink. A principal advantage of ESW over other NETs is that it counteracts ocean acidification and that it can be directly integrated into existing coastal management programs with existing (dredging) technology. Whilst the geochemical basis is firmly established and ESW has been proven to work in laboratory conditions, real life applications are hampered by uncertainties regarding CO2 sequestration rates and possible trace metal release. In this project, we will develop a quantitative biogeochemical sediment model that describes the dissolution of silicate minerals in marine sediments during ESW applications. The model will be validated by data from the international ESW mesocosm facility recently established in Oostende. From the model two critical tools will be derived, that will predict CO2 sequestration rates and trace metal release during real life ESW applications.

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  • Research Project

Microbial Systems Technology (MST). 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

Microorganisms have been exploited from the earliest times for baking, brewing, and food preservation. More recently, the enormous versatility in biochemical and physiological properties of microbes has been exploited to create new chemicals and nanomaterials, and has led to bio-electrical systems employed for clean energy and waste management. Moreover, it has become clear that humans, animals and plants are greatly influenced by their microbiome, leading to new medical treatments and agricultural applications. Recent progress in molecular biology and genetic engineering provide a window of opportunity for developing new microbiology-based technology. Just as advances in physics and engineering transformed life in the 20th century, rapid progress in (micro)biology is poised to change the world in the decades to come. The Excellence Centre "Microbial Systems Technology" (MST) will assemble and consolidate the expertise in microbial ecology and technology at UAntwerpen, embracing state-of-the-art technologies and interdisciplinary systems biology approaches to better understand microbes and their environment and foster the development of transformational technologies and applications. MST connects recently established research lines across UAntwerpen in the fields of microbial ecology, medical microbial ecology, plant physiology, biomaterials and nanotechnology with essential expertise in Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics. By joining forces, new and exciting developments can be more quickly integrated into research activities, thus catalyzing the development of novel microbial products and processes, including functional food, feed and fertilizers, probiotics, and novel biosensors and bio-electronics applications. This way, MST aims for an essential contribution to the sustainable improvement of human health and the environment.

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  • Research Project

Coastal biogeochemistry. 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2027

Abstract

The coastal ocean is hotspot of global change. The human imprint on the coastal zone is sharply increasing, both in arctic, temperate and tropical regions. Coastal ecosystems are exposed to increased nutrient inputs (eutrophication), higher risk of oxygen depletion (hypoxia), and ongoing changes in the chemical composition of seawater (ocean acidification), which may lead to strong and rapid changes in element cycling and food web functioning. In order to understand how coastal ecosystems are affected by these aspects of global change, we must improve our understanding of coastal biogeochemistry. This project will adopt a multi-disciplinary perspective which allows us better to understand, quantify, and predict the interactions between physical forces (e.g. stratification), chemical transformations (e.g. carbonate thermodynamics) and biological processes (e.g. phytoplankton productivity).

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  • Research Project

The impact of macrofauna and microbiota on silicate weathering in coastal sediments. 01/01/2023 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

Enhanced silicate weathering (ESW) is an approach that targets for the deliberate removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere in order to reach the targets of the Paris climate agreement. During chemical weathering of silicate minerals, a dissolution process is initiated, which binds CO2 from the atmosphere in aqueous form. Hence, by introducing fast-weathering silicate minerals in locations with high weathering rates, like the coastal zone, one could potentially create a CO2 sink. One important assumption is that silicate weathering in natural coastal sediments could be substantially promoted by local biota. Macrofauna can stimulate silicate weathering through deposit feeding activities and bio-irrigation. Microbiota can stimulate silicate weathering through metabolic dissolution and acidification of the pore water. Here we will examine this "benthic weathering engine" hypothesis via dedicated microcosm and mesocosm experiments and by field investigations at sites with intense natural silcate weathering. The research proposed will provide insights into the role of biota in current day global cycling of carbon and silicon, while at the same time, they will help quantifying the CO2 sequestration potential and ecosystem impact of CO2 drawdown approaches that are urgently needed for climate stabilization.

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Project website

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  • Research Project

Brilliant Marine Research Idea 2022 - Response of marine microbial communities to an electrical highway shut down. 01/03/2022 - 28/02/2023

Abstract

Cable bacteria span from the top oxic zone till the anoxic part. This allows them to outcompete single cell bacteria by spatially separating redox reactions, with sulfide oxidation in the deeper sediment and oxide reduction in the oxic top layer [3] changing the pH and sulfide concentration within the sediment. The coupling of these half reactions is established by transporting electrons over centimetre scale using conductive fibers. This 'electrical highway' that the cable bacteria constructs is crucial for interaction with other microbes. However, it is not know what the effect is on the microbial community. Therefor this research idea proposes to investigate the effect of cable bacteria on the microbial community.

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  • Research Project

Natural analogues and system-scale modeling of marine enhanced silicate weathering (DEHEAT). 15/12/2021 - 15/03/2023

Abstract

Global climate change is one of the biggest global challenges of the 21st century and urgently requires ambitious, transformative, and collective action to limit global warming. This can be achieved either by preventing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere ("conventional mitigation") or by actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere ("negative emissions"). However, to reach the Paris climate goal and limit global warming below 2°C, we will need to rely on negative emission technologies (NETs, also called Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies, CDR). A promising NET approach is Enhanced Silicate Weathering (ESW). ESW makes use of the natural weathering reaction, whereby silicate dissolution consumes atmospheric CO2. The core idea of ESW is to distribute silicate minerals in environments that are characterized by high weathering rates, thus enhancing the uptake of atmospheric CO2 by increasing the alkalinity of the ocean. Here, we aim at examining, for the first time, the feasibility of ESW under marine conditions, taking advantage of the coastal ocean as a large-scale, natural biogeochemical reactor. One important research question pertains to the efficiency of marine ESW in stimulating oceanic CO2 uptake by increasing alkalinity in the coastal ocean. A second critical issue concerns the potential side-effects (both positive and negative) on marine ecosystems, including the enhanced availability of silicate and the potential release of iron and trace elements. To address these critical knowledge gaps, we will apply an innovative, fully integrated model-data approach combining RV Belgica field campaigns with state-of-the-art numerical models. Specifically, we will: (I) quantify the sediment geochemistry and mineralogy of natural analogues for ESW (II) develop and apply process-based local diagenetic models to quantify benthic weathering rates and benthic-pelagic exchange fluxes (III) design a large-scale virtual field trial to assess the efficiency and full environmental impact of applying ESW as NET on the North Sea scale. Results will not only provide important quantitative information on ESW in the marine environment but also the first system-scale assessment of marine ESW as a NET. The scenario-based virtual analysis will further augment the direct value of the proposed unique RV Belgica field observations. Together, they will a major step towards science-based decision-making on the application of NETs and will put Belgium firmly at the forefront of marine coastal ESW research.

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  • Research Project

Real-time and spatially distributed monitoring of microclimate. 01/11/2021 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

Recently, climate change impacts have become strikingly tangible, with prolonged periods of drought and temperature records being broken. These weather extremes strongly impact soil ecosystem services, with potentially important economic consequences for agriculture, nature conservation, garden maintenance and other sectors. Society increasingly needs to cope with these impacts, thus spurring new economic activities that demand large-scale heat and drought monitoring. In this PhD project, I will pioneer cost-effective approaches for large soil microclimate networks that involve 1000s of monitoring locations. These allow to assess the vulnerability of soil ecosystems to heat and drought, and verify whether implemented adaptation measures are effective (e.g. water infiltration and soil moisture buffering). As a proof of concept, extensive microclimate networks will be deployed in gardens and nature reserves across Flanders, taking advantage of the new TMS-NB sensor, which enables low-cost and real-time measurements of soil temperature and moisture through the Internet of Things. This new data source will allow identifying the drivers of spatiotemporal variability in microclimate along the urban-rural gradient. Novel software tools will be developed for the data streams originating from these sensor networks, thus making the resulting data and insights readily available to relevant societal actors (e.g. farmers, garden maintenance, nature reserve managers).

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  • Research Project

Consultancy in context of Earthwatch Operation Healthy Air Program. 20/10/2021 - 31/05/2022

Abstract

We will participate in the community air quality data collection program from Earthwatch. Since 2017, Earthwatch has been working with partners, community members and scientists to address monitor air quality through citizen and community science projects. Here, the project involves the deployment of air quality samplers in 4 cities across Europe and the UK. We are responsible for the deployment in Brussels.

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  • Research Project

Exploration of the technological potential of cable bacteria for bio-electronics. 01/06/2021 - 31/05/2023

Abstract

Recently, an entirely new type of bacteria has been discovered that can conduct high electrical currents over centimeters long distances via long, thin fibers embedded in the cell sheath. Recent studies show that these fibers have electrical abilities in power, including electrical conductivity data that exceeds that of all biological materials by orders of magnitude. The ambition of this project is to investigate investigate whether and how the fiber structures of cable bacteria can be used as components in a new generation of biocompatible and biodegradable electronic devices.

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  • Research Project

CuriousNoses BXL. A Citizen Science campaign for air quality measurement in Brussels. 01/02/2021 - 30/04/2022

Abstract

CurieuzeNeuzen' (CN) is a large-scale citizen science project on the measurement of NO2 pollution in the Brussels Capital Region. CN will answer following fundamental question on the population exposure to traffic-related air pollution: 'How many inhabitants of Brussels live in places where the air quality exceeds the EU and WHO norms for the NO2 ambient air concentrations?'. To answer this question, CN will mobilize and engage many citizens to measure NO2 concentrations during one month in 3000 locations across the Brussels Capital Region. This will provide the necessary "Big Data" to answer the research question in a scientific way. During execution of the project, CN focuses on three goals: (1) it strives for significant social impact (creating awareness about the health impacts of pollution, and value and importance of clean air), (2) it enables innovative data collection that allows to make important scientific progress (through mass-scale data collection aided by citizens) and (3) it contributes to the public agenda for policy making (providing reliable data for science-based air quality policies).

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    • Research Project

    Enhanced silicate weathering for climate change mitigation – a mesocosm experiment. 01/12/2020 - 30/11/2022

    Abstract

    Besides rapid decarbonization of all sectors, limiting global warming to well below 2°C will also require active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. A number of so-called negative emission technologies (NETs) have been proposed for this purpose, including several land-based solutions using natural processes. A promising but yet poorly studied land-based NET is accelerated silicate weathering (EW). When silicates weather, a slow dissolution process occurs, binding CO2 in aqueous form. This CO2 is sequestered for millennia. The idea behind EW is to speed up this natural process, by artificially increasing the weathering rate. This can be achieved by distributing finely ground silicate rock (e.g. basalt) or artificial silicates such as steel slag on soils. While the latter weathers more slowly, using waste streams has the advantage that source material is abundant and that it can be embedded in a circular economy. Thus far, research on EW has mainly been limited to laboratory experiments. Empirical research under more realistic conditions is urgently needed to determine the true climate change mitigation potential as well as the side-effects of EW. An essential step between the lab-based research and applications in the field are mesocosm experiments that allow accurate quantification of the CO2 sequestration and method development for practical C sequestration assessment in the field. In this project, a mesocosm experiment will be set up to accurately quantify CO2 sequestration by EW. Sideeffects on plant growth and plant nutrient concentrations will also be quantified. Specifically, 15 mesocosms will be filled with agricultural soil and planted with maize. Five receive only fertilizer, while the others receive also finely ground basalt (n=5) or steel slag (n=5), i.e., a natural and an artificial silicate. Weathering rates are monitored by analyzing top soil pore water samples as well as leachates for weathering products (DIC, alkalinity, Si, Mg and Ca). Weathering products can also precipitate in the soil and quantification of CO2 sequestration rates thus also requires analysis of carbonates in the soil after the experiment. Plants are harvested at the end of the experiment to quantify plant biomass (above- and belowground) and subsamples are analyzed for important plant nutrients, including N, P, K, Si, Ca, Mg.

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    The electrical biopshere in the ocean floor: microbial players and interactions. 01/10/2020 - 31/10/2021

    Abstract

    Recently, long filamentous bacteria have been discovered in marine sediments, which are capable of generating and mediating electricity over centimeter-scale distances. Recent evidence convincingly suggests that these so-called cable bacteria are not acting alone, and that maybe an electron exchange between cable bacteria and other microbes in the seafloor. Somehow, other bacteria appear to exploit the electrical network provided by the cable bacteria. In this project, we will examine which microbial players are involved, and how they interact. In this way, this project will improve our fundamental understanding of microbial interactions in the ocean floor.

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      CurieuzeNeuzen in de tuin 23/09/2020 - 22/03/2023

      Abstract

      The citizen science project CURIEUZENEUZEN VLAANDEREN on air quality in 2018 will have a successor: "CURIEUZENEUZEN IN THE GARDEN". In the spring of 2021, 5000 families will have the opportunity to equip their garden with a soil weather station. This weather station will be centrally located in the lawn and will monitor the temperature and soil moisture online for six months (April 1 to September 30). With this research we want to obtain a large-scale picture of drought stress in Flanders. The 5000 participants will also collect soil samples in their gardens, which will provide a detailed picture of the carbon content in the garden soils in Flanders. Thanks to this research, we obtain important scientific insights into resilience against weather extremes, and we can sensitize the general public about climate adaptation.

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      OPTIMISE: Advanced biOreactors and Processing equipmenT for culturIng beneficial MIcrobeS to higher yiElds. 01/05/2020 - 30/04/2024

      Abstract

      Beneficial microbes have a plethora of biomedical, environmental and engineering applications. Currently, many fundamental and more applied R&D projects are slowed down by the need for advanced equipment for the upscaling and processing of the microbial cultures. Here, a research consortium of bio-engineers, civil engineers, biologists and pharmaceutical engineers was built to jointly advance the applications and research of beneficial microbes at UAntwerpen. This consortium aims to manage joint equipment and expertise. The core of the equipment is a 100 l pilot bioreactor suited for bacteria, yeasts and algae. It is fully computer controlled and monitored, and equipped with a steam-in-place (SIP) unit. The system is equipped with several sensors and valves allowing automated control of important parameters (e.g. pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, turbidity, …). The whole system is GMP- compatible and in pharmaceutical- grade steel. A 10 l bioreactor is foreseen for optimizing culturing conditions. The reactors are complemented with an incubator-shaker for the growth of inocula and postprocessing equipment to professionally process the biomass. The post-processing equipment mainly consists of a large scale, low- to- high speed cooled centrifuge and a pilot spray dryer for final processing for extended shelf life of the biomass and work up of the biomass towards its final application.

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      High resolution Raman spectroscopy and imaging. 01/05/2020 - 30/04/2024

      Abstract

      High resolution Raman imaging is a versatile imaging technique that generates detailed maps of the chemical composition of technical as well as biological samples. The equipment with given specifications is not yet available at UAntwerp, and will crucially complement the high-end chemical imaging techniques (XRF, XRD, IR, SEM-EDX-WDX, LA-ICP-MS) that are already available at UAntwerp for material characterization. High resolution Raman imaging will expose, with high resolution, the final details (structural fingerprint) of the material of interest. In first instance, we aim to boost the following research lines: electrochemistry, photocatalysis, marine microbiology, environmental analysis and cultural heritage. The Raman microscope should be as versatile as possible, to support potential future technological enhancements.

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      CuriousNoses Europe - Up-Scaling Citizen-Based Air Quality Monitoring. 01/05/2020 - 30/04/2022

      Abstract

      The SEP grant will be used to prepare, file and kickstart the Curious Noses Europe project. This project will demonstrate how large-scale citizen science can make a unique and disruptive contribution to better air quality in Europe. The ambition is to capitalise on the transformative potential of citizen science for generating large-scale, high-quality, and openly available NO2 data sets, allowing for new research questions to be addressed as well as revealing policy-relevant insights. By empowering 1000s of citizens in air quality monitoring, EU wide air quality research and policy can be accelerated. Starting from the very successful CurieuzeNeuzen project, the aim of Curious Noses Europe is to scale up this approach to other EU cities, thereby addressing one of the key challenges of citizen science: scalability.

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        Investigation of microbial long-distance electron transport via spectroscopy and electrochemistry. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2023

        Abstract

        Recently, long filamentous bacteria have been discovered in marine sediments, which are capable of generating and mediating electricity over centimeter-scale distances. These so-called "cable bacteria" have evolved a new mechanism for mediating electrical currents, which extends the known length scale of microbial electron transmission by two orders of magnitude. Cable bacteria are multi-cellular and possess a unique energy metabolism, in which electrons are passed on from cell to cell along a chain of 10.000 cells. This biological innovation equips them with a competitive advantage for survival within the seafloor environment. Microbial long-distance electron transport is a disruptive finding, both in terms of new biology as well as potential new technology. The capability of cable bacteria to transport electrons over centimeter distances implies that biological evolution must have somehow developed a highly conductive, organic structure. If these conductive structures inside cable bacteria could be somehow harnessed in an engineered way, this could pave the way for entirely new materials and applications in bio-electronics. To better grasp the wide reaching implications of long-distance electron transport, we need to better understand how the phenomenon works. Here, science is faced with an important challenge: it remains a conundrum how electrons are transported through a cable bacterium. Therefore, the prime objectives of this project are (1) to resolve the conductive structures and mechanism responsible for microbial long-distance transport and (2) to characterize their physical structure, chemical composition and electrical properties. The foundational pillar of this project are recently acquired data demonstrating that cable bacteria can be connected to electrodes and revealing that the cell envelope of cable bacteria contains highly conductive structures.

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        CurieuzeNeuzen duikt onder 01/01/2020 - 15/03/2023

        Abstract

        CurieuzeNeuzen is back, but now with a focus on climate adaptation. Whereas the original CurieuzeNeuzen citizen science project has moved mountains with respect to public participation in air quality, "CurieuzeNeuzen goes underground " wants to work on climate awareness in a large-scale way. To this end, we are going to monitor the impact of weather extremes and increasing drought, where citizens notice it first: in their own garden. This garden is close to the heart of Flanders, so the tens of thousands of lawns in Flanders are the ideal canvas for an innovative citizen science project on climate adaptation. Via a large-scale network of thousands of "mini weather station networks" we will measure the soil temperature and soil moisture throughout Flanders, both at home in gardens, as well as in public gardens and parks. This measurement campaign has a specific scientific purpose: we will answer the important question of how resilient our gardens are against future climate change and extreme weather conditions, and what the effect of our garden and landscape management is on that resilience. We take into account the effect of urban heat islands, but also the impact of small, local interventions, such as planting trees and the frequency of mowing. The result is a detailed drought map for Flanders in which risk areas are mapped and, for science, an extensive and internationally unique database on the impact of increasing weather extremes on the soil climate. But above all, we aim for a large-scale awareness of the drought problem in Flanders, and what we can do about this, both as individual and as society.

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        Compositional characterization of the conductive structures enabling centimetre-scale electron transport in cable bacteria. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2023

        Abstract

        Recently, long filamentous "cable bacteria" have been discovered, which are capable of mediating large electrical currents over centimetre-scale distances. This finding extends the known length scale of microbial electron transmission by three orders of magnitude, and implies that biological evolution has somehow generated a highly conductive, organic structure. This is remarkable as biological materials are known to be poorly conductive. If the conductive structures inside cable bacteria could somehow be exploited in an engineered way, this could pave the way for entirely new materials and applications in bio-electronics. To better grasp the wide reaching implications, we need to better understand the phenomenon of microbial long-distance electron transport. Yet presently, it remains a conundrum how electrons are transported through cable bacteria. Recently data demonstrate that the cell envelope of cable bacteria contains highly conductive fibre structures. The prime objective of this project is to resolve the protein composition of these conductive fibre structures. To this end, I will use an approach that combines genomics and proteomics. I aim to find out what makes the proteins in the fibre structures conductive, where they evolutionary come from, and how they function. If we can determine the proteins involved in long-distance electron transport, we can learn more about how this extraordinary mechanism works.

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        Enhanced silicate weathering as CO2 removal strategy in coastal environments. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022

        Abstract

        To reach the Paris climate goals, conventional CO2 mitigation alone will not be sufficient, and large-scale deployment of negative emission technologies (NET) will be needed to extract CO2 back from the atmosphere. At present however, the feasibility, efficiency and environmental impact of currently proposed NETs is poorly constrained. This project will quantitatively investigate these issues for enhanced silicate weathering (ESW) in coastal environments, which is a newly proposed NET. The principle behind ESW is that the weathering of silicates releases alkalinity, which increases the CO2 uptake capacity of the ocean. To get a quantitative and mechanistic understanding of ESW under realistic conditions we will combine experimental work, field sampling and modelling efforts. In a large mesocosm facility, we will investigate the rate of olivine weathering, the effect on local geochemistry, the CO2 sequestration efficiency and the possible release of harmful trace metals (nickel, chromium). To examine effects on a longer timescale, we will perform a detailed geochemical assessment of two specific field sites, which have natural olivine weathering. All results will be analyzed using a comprehensive numeric modelling environment to fully unravel the connection between ESW and other biogeochemical processes. The results of this project will provide a first quantitative insight into the potential of coastal ESW as a negative emission technology.

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        Negative emissions through enhanced mineral weathering in the coastal zone. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

        Abstract

        Negative emission technologies target the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and are being actively investigated as a strategy to limit global warming to within a 2°C increase. Enhanced silicate weathering (ESW) is an approach that uses the natural process of silicate weathering for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. The geochemical basis is firmly established: during dissolution of silicate minerals in seawater, CO2 is consumed and sequestered into the ocean. Hence, by deliberately introducing fast-weathering silicate minerals into the coastal zone, one could create a coastal CO2 sink. A principal advantage of ESW over other negative emission technologies is that it also counteracts ocean acidification and that it can be directly integrated into existing coastal management programs with existing technology. Although model studies show its feasibility, there has been no rigorous assessment of its CO2-sequestration efficiency and environmental impacts, which are bottlenecks to its commercial implementation. In this project, we will conduct a set of large-scale experiments to investigate the rate of ESW and associated CO2 uptake under realistic natural settings (bioturbation, waves, currents) as well as potentially important influences on the biogeochemical cycling in coastal ecosystems (release of trace metals, alkalinity and dissolved silicate).

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        Elucidating the mechanism of microbial long-distance electron transport. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

        Abstract

        Recently, long filamentous "cable bacteria" have been discovered, which are capable of mediating large electrical currents over centimeter-scale distances. This finding extends the known length scale of microbial electron transmission by three orders of magnitude, and implies that biological evolution has somehow generated a highly conductive, organic structure. This is remarkable as biological materials are known to be poorly conductive. Microbial long-distance electron transport is a disruptive finding, both in terms of new biology as well as in terms of new technology. If the conductive structures inside cable bacteria could be somehow harnessed in an engineered way, this could pave the way for entirely new materials and applications in bio-electronics. To better grasp the wide reaching implications, we need to better understand the phenomenon of microbial long-distance electron transport. Yet presently, it remains a conundrum how electrons are transported through cable bacteria. Recently we obtained a breakthrough by connecting cable bacteria to electrodes and measuring the electrical current. These data demonstrate that the cell envelope of cable bacteria contains highly conductive structures. The prime objectives of this project are to resolve the physical structure and chemical composition of these conductive structures. Additionally, we will determine the underlying mechanism of electron transport and the electrical properties of the conductive structures.

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        Biogeochemical cycling, redox transformations and microbial actors in electrified sediment ecosystems. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

        Abstract

        In 2010 a perplexing discovery was made: marine microbes are generating electrical currents within the seafloor that extend over centimeter scale distances. Long filamentous microbes, called "cable bacteria", transport electrons from cell to cell along a chain of more than 10.000 cells. Dense populations of these cable bacteria make the seafloor operate like an electrical battery. This newly discovered process of long-distance microbial electricity is fundamentally different from neural conduction or other known conduction mechanisms in biology, and equips the cable bacteria with a competitive advantage for survival in the seafloor. Recent data on microbial diversity and activity in sediments with long-distance electron transport suggest that other microbial actors are involved and that other electron donors are used beside free sulfide. Hence, the basic hypothesis of this FWO project is that long-distance electron transport has a far stronger impact on the biogeochemical cycling and microbial ecology of natural sediment ecosystems than currently thought. Long-distance electron transport can drive redox transformations other than aerobic sulfide oxidation, and may involve players other than cable bacteria.

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        Microbial conductive nanofibers as a radically new type of organic conductors. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2019

        Abstract

        Recently, an entirely novel type of marine filamentous bacteria has been discovered that can guide electrical currents over centimeter-long distances. The cell wall of these bacteria contains thin, long fibers that act as conductive structures. New data reveal that these nanofibers possess an extremely high electrical conductivity, which exceeds that of any known biological material by orders of magnitude. The ambition of this project is to unlock the vast technological potential of these newly electronic properties could push electronics far beyond its current limits. Because of their biological origin, the nanofibers are endowed with unique properties, such as biocompatibility, biodegradability, and self-assembly. This combination of properties sets them greatly apart from the conventional conductive materials currently used in organic electronics, and hence provides a large valorization potential, allowing novel disruptive applications in many different areas, such as biosensors, and electricity-based health care. The objective of this project is to further disentangle the chemical structure and composition of the microbial conductive nanofibers, and in this way, reinforce the current IPR position.

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          Refinement of the ATMO-Street computermodel on the basis of the CurieuzeNeuzen dataset. 01/11/2018 - 30/04/2019

          Abstract

          The citizen science project "CurieuzeNeuzen Vlaanderen" has mapped the air quality across Flanders at high spatial resolution. Twenty thousand participants have measured the air quality in their street, which has resulted in an unusually large and powerful dataset. These data will be analysed in the current project and compared to computer simulations of the air quality across Flanders by the ATMOstreet model. The goal is to refine and improve the underlying computer model mode. This will enable to better quantify the exposure of the population towards air pollution, and hence will lead to improved policy support.

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            The electrical biopshere in the ocean floor: microbial players and interactions. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

            Abstract

            Recently, long filamentous bacteria have been discovered in marine sediments, which are capable of generating and mediating electricity over centimeter-scale distances. Recent evidence convincingly suggests that these so-called cable bacteria are not acting alone, and that likely an electron exchange occurs between cable bacteria and other microbes in the seafloor. Somehow, other bacteria appear to exploit the electrical network provided by the cable bacteria. In this project, we will examine the microbial players that are involved, and how they interact. In this way, this project will improve our fundamental understanding of ecosystem functioning of the ocean floor.

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            Screen printing facilities and high resolution Raman imaging of (printed) surfaces and materials. 01/05/2018 - 30/04/2021

            Abstract

            This Hercules proposal concerns screen printing facilities. Screen printing facilities enable UAntwerp to pioneer in the field of electronics, sensors and photocatalysis by (1) developing unique (photo)sensors/detectors (e.g. electrochemical sensors, photovoltaics, photocatalysis) by printing (semi)conducting materials on substrates, (2) designing parts of Internet of Things modules with more flexibility and more dynamically, meanwhile creating a unique valorization potential and IP position.

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              Research in the framework of the CurieuzeNeuzen project. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2023

              Abstract

              The aim of the citizen-science project "CurieuzeNeuzen Vlaanderen" is to map the air quality across the region of Flanders at high resolution. Twenty thousand citizens receive a sensor package to measure the air quality in their street. The concentration of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is measured in ambient by passive samplers (Palmes diffusion tubes). At the international level, this is the first time that at such a large scale citizens become involved in a scientific project on air quality.

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              Cofinancing CurieuzeNeuzen Vlaanderen citizen science project on air quality 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2019

              Abstract

              The aim of the citizen-science project "CurieuzeNeuzen Vlaanderen" is to map the air quality across the region of Flanders at high resolution. The project is a cooperation between University Antwerp, the Flemish Environmental Protection (VMM) Agency en de newspaper De Standaard, with support of HIVA-KUleuven and VITO. Twenty thousand citizens receive a sensor package to measure the air quality in their street. The concentration of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is measured in ambient by passive samplers (Palmes diffusion tubes). At the international level, this is the first time that at such a large scale citizens become involved in a scientific project on air quality.

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                Conductive nanofibers extracted from long marine bacteria: a radically new source material for organic electronics 15/10/2017 - 31/12/2019

                Abstract

                Recently, a novel type of filamentous bacteria has been discovered within the seafloor, which are capable of guiding electrical currents over centimeter-scale distances. Electrons are transported from cell-to-cell along the longitudinal axis of centimeter-long cable bacteria, but the actual physical mechanism of conduction remains elusive. The prime objectives of this FWO project are (1) to identify the conductive structures responsible for microbial long-distance transport and (2) to characterize their electrical properties, and (3) their potential for technological applications. Based on recently acquired data, a model is advanced in which thin fibers within the cell envelope act as the conductive structures. Computer model analysis suggests that these nanofiber structures could possess the highest conductivity and charge mobility of any known biological material, making them a promising new source material for organic electronics. In this FWO project, which involves an interdisciplinary collaboration between marine microbiology and applied physics, we will examine whether these fibers are as conductive as projected, confirming their potential of for novel bioelectronic applications. This will be done by a detailed characterization of the physical structure and electronic properties of these nanofibers. When successful, the nanofibers will be integrated into a prototypes of a micro-electronic device, exploring their potential for next generation electronics.

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                  The coastal ocean: hotspot of global change. 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2020

                  Abstract

                  The coastal ocean is hotspot of global change. The human imprint on the coastal zone is sharply increasing, both in arctic, temperate and tropical regions. Coastal ecosystems are exposed to increased nutrient inputs (eutrophication), higher risk of oxygen depletion (hypoxia), and ongoing changes in the chemical composition of seawater (ocean acidification), which may lead to strong and rapid changes in element cycling and food web functioning. In order to understand how coastal ecosystems are affected by these aspects of global change, we must improve our understanding of coastal biogeochemistry. This project will adopt a multi-disciplinary perspective which allows us better to understand, quantify, and predict the interactions between physical forces (e.g. stratification), chemical transformations (e.g. carbonate thermodynamics) and biological processes (e.g. phytoplankton productivity).

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