Siegfried Vlaeminck

Microbial cleantech for the water cycle and food production chain

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About Siegfried Vlaeminck

Prof. dr. ir. Siegfried E. Vlaeminck

Scientific profile 

  • Research highlights:
    • Expertise: ‘Microbial technology for resource-efficient nutrient management’
    • ~80 scientific publications, of which 46 in ISI indexed journals (international peer reviewed, A1)
    • Conference presentations: ~65 oral and ~40 poster
    • Coordinator of the FP7 project ManureEcoMine, and (Co-)PI for several projects from the European Space Agency (ESA)
  • Teaching highlights:
    • ~10 years of teaching experience in environmental biotechnology and ecology
    • Signature courses: 'Environmental technology' (UAntwerp), 'Microbial re-use technology' (UGent), 'Microbial ecology & environmental sanitation' (UGent)
    • Advisor of ~30 MSc thesis students, ~20 BSc thesis students and ~10 external internships
  • Servicing highlights:
    • External consultant for the environmental engineering industry: for 12 companies (among which 7 international), 5 public bodies and 2 court cases
    • Society boards
      • Member of the management committee of the International Water Association Specialist Group Nutrient Removal and Recovery (IWA SG NRR)
      • Member of core committee of the Flemish Nutrient Platform
      • Member of the Academic Advisory Board of Biogas-E, the Flemish platform for anaerobic digestion


Research context and mission

Nutrients play a pivotal role in sustaining global food security, relying on the biological upgrading of simple inorganic fertilizer molecules such as ammonium to precious nutritional compounds such as essential amino acids. The inefficiencies and losses along the food production chain and upon consumption however yield unacceptable environmental changes. This profiling of mainly nitrogen and phosphorus as double-edged swords is additionally entangled to (fossil) energy and (fresh) water demand. By 2050, the tension on this nexus will strongly increase, with figures of 30, 40 and 50% for water, energy, and food respectively.

The research team of prof. dr. ir. Siegfried E. Vlaeminck endeavors to alleviate tensions in the nutrient-energy-water nexus through a dedicated focus on novel resource-efficient nutrient management biotechnology, bearing in mind the boundaries of local socio-economic situations. The particular core expertise lies in the design of bioreactors and process configurations, along with the development of dedicated microbiome steering tools. In the philosophy of sustainability, maximum efficiency of resources (e.g. energy and chemicals) and minimum emissions of harmful compounds (e.g. N2O) are the guiding compasses. This renders a niche for removal, recovery and production technologies. For the latter two, dedicated attention is oriented toward the market demand side, meeting requirements in terms of quantity and quality of end-users.

Prof. Vlaeminck’s bioconversion interests encompass biological nutrient recovery (micro-algae, photoheterotrophs, single cell protein,…), short-cut nitrogen removal (partial nitritation/anammox and nitritation/denitritation), biological phosphorus removal, conventional biological nitrogen removal, reuse of recovered products,... The influent scope ranges from domestic over industrial to agricultural or aquacultural streams, be it in end-of-pipe collection systems or in source separation schemes (e.g. black, brown, grey, yellow water). Besides the terrestrial context, a dedicated focus is oriented toward biological life support systems for Space. The group’s methodology spans from lab- to full-scale reactors and from microbial analyses to process control and microbiome management.

By doing so, prof. Vlaeminck and his team aim to ambitiously contribute in rendering global food production more sustainable at the level of the environment, the economy and the society at large. 


Campus Groenenborger
Groenenborgerlaan 171
2020 Antwerpen
Tel. 032653689
Fax 032653225