Research team


Climate change forces humanity to rethink the way we utilise resources and deal with waste streams. To avoid (further) transgression of the Earth’s natural boundaries, more environmentally friendly technologies are needed. Dr. ir. Michiel Van Tendeloo’s research mainly focusses on two topics: i) municipal wastewater treatment & biological nitrogen removal, and ii) CO2 sequestration via enhanced mineral weathering. His skills cover advanced bioreactor design, monitoring biological processes and pilot-scale reactor operation. Skills that will come to great use in his current research project on Bio-Accelerated Mineral weathering (BAM!): for which he will take the lead in the development of an advanced multi-phase bioreactor. Michiel’s PhD research focussed on resource-efficient nitrogen removal from sewage to achieve energy-positive sewage treatment. He studied multiple control strategies to steer the microbial community towards the composition needed for mainstream partial nitritation/anammox. During his PhD, he constructed and operated three lab-scale and one pilot-scale bioreactor.

Smart process control enabling robust partial nitrtation/anammox for energy-positive sewage treatment. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021


Currently, sewage treatment is an energy-consuming process. However, sewage contains about ten times the required energy to treat it, and thus energy positive sewage treatment should be possible. This can be achieved by converting the conventional treatment plant to a 2-staged system; in the first stage, as much energy as possible is recovered from the sewage while in the second stage, the remaining pollutants are removed while simultaneously minimizing its energy requirement. Partial nitritation/anammox is a key technology in this energy-saving process, responsible for nitrogen removal, but there are currently several bottlenecks for its implementation in the water-line of a sewage treatment plant. This project aims to develop a smart process control that will allow this implementation and will ensure a stable and robust process. Therefore, state-of-the-art technologies will be combined with novel created technologies, such as a return sludge treatment. Additionally, the current issues about the start-up of partial nitritation/anammox will be solved by a newly developed method to seed the reactor. Finally, a conceptual retrofit is designed that will allow the easy implementation of this energy positive technology in existing treatment plants, thus lowering the threshold for companies to switch to this novel technology.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project