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PhD Dissertation Defense - Moustapha Harb

Start Date: March 30, 2017
End Date: March 30, 2017

​​ADVISOR: Professor Peiying Hong
Microbial-based evaluation of anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) for the sustainable and efficient treatment of municipal wastewater
DATE: Thursday, March 30, 2017
TIME: 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
LOCATION: Building 5 · Level 5 · Room 5220

Conventional activated sludge-based wastewater treatment is an energy and resource-intensive process. Historically it has been successful at producing safely treated wastewater effluents in the developed world, specifically in places that have the infrastructure and space to support its operation. However, with a growing need for safe and efficient wastewater treatment across the world in both urban and rural settings, a paradigm shift in waste treatment is proving to be necessary. The sustainability of the future of wastewater treatment, in a significant way, hinges on moving towards energy neutrality and wastewater effluent reuse. This potential for reuse is threatened by the recent emergence and study of contaminants that have not been previously taken into consideration, such as antibiotics and other organic micro pollutants (OMPs), antibiotic resistance genes, and persistent pathogenic bacteria.
This dissertation focuses on investigating the use of anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) technology for the sustainable treatment of municipal-type wastewaters. Specifically, a microbial approach to understanding biofouling and methane recovery potential in anaerobic MBR systems has been employed to assess different reactor systems’ efficiency. This dissertation further compares AnMBRs to their more widely used aerobic counterparts. This comparison specifically focuses on the removal and biodegradation of OMPs and antibiotics in both anaerobic and aerobic MBRs, while also investigating their effect on the proliferation of antibiotic resistance genes. Due to rising interest in wastewater effluent reuse and the lack of a comprehensive understanding of MBR systems’ effects on pathogen proliferation, this dissertation also investigates the presence of pathogens in both aerobic and anaerobic MBR effluents by using molecular-based detection methods.
Moustapha received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2007 and master’s degree in environmental engineering in 2010 from the University of Houston. Between 2007 and 2012 he worked in infrastructure design and environmental engineering consulting in Houston, Texas, USA and obtained his license as a professional engineer (PE) in 2010. Moustapha joined KAUST in 2012 to pursue his PhD in Dr. Peiying Hong’s Environmental Microbial Safety and Biotechnology Lab. His research during this time has focused on microbial aspects of wastewater treatment and membrane-based treatment systems.