We have developed a 3D dry lift-off process to localize multiple types of nitrifying bacteria in polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) cubes for enhanced nitrification, a two-step biological process that converts ammonium to nitrite and then to nitrate. Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) is responsible for converting ammonia into nitrite, and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) is responsible for converting nitrite to nitrate. Successful nitrification is often challenging to accomplish, in part because AOB and NOB are slow growers and highly susceptible to many organic and inorganic chemicals in wastewater. Most importantly, the transportation of chemicals among scattered bacteria is extremely inefficient and can be problematic. For example, nitrite, produced from ammonia oxidation, is toxic to AOB and can lead to the failure of nitrification. To address these challenges, we closely localize AOB and NOB in PEGDA cubes as microenvironment modules to promote synergetic interactions. The AOB is first localized in the vicinity of the surface of the PEGDA cubes that enable AOB to efficiently uptake ammonia from a liquid medium and convert it into nitrite. The produced nitrite is then efficiently transported to the NOB localized at the center of the PEGDA particle and converted into non-toxic nitrate. Additionally, the nanoscale PEGDA fibrous structures offer a protective environment for these strains, defending them from sudden toxic chemical shocks and immobilize in cubes. This engineered microenvironment cube significantly enhances nitrification and improves the overall ammonia removal rate per single AOB cell. This approach-encapsulation of multiple strains at close range in cube in order to control their interactions-not only offers a new strategy for enhancing nitrification, but also can be adapted to improve the production of fermentation products and biofuel, because microbial processes require synergetic reactions among multiple species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)