Environmental Biotechnology, the Means to Maximize the Value of Resources Recovered from Wastewaters

Professor Bruce Rittmann, PhD (NAE)
Arizona State University
Co-winner 2018 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate

November 4, 2021 | 4:30 p.m.
Sinclair Auditorium
7 Asa Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Lehigh University

Environmental Biotechnology is defined as “partnering with microbial communities that provide sustainability services to society.” Those services include detoxifying pollutants, creating renewable resources, and improving human health. The partnership is powerful due to combining the creative and managerial powers of humans with the incredible metabolic diversity of microorganisms. This talk focuses on how environmental biotechnology provides an outstanding means to turn wastewaters from environmental liabilities to sources of valuable resources. The primary focus is on wastewaters that contain high concentrations of organic matter (e.g., animal wastes, food-processing wastes, and uneaten food). 

The talk is organized around a four-part strategy:

  1. Go for the big energy. 
  2. Get more energy out of complex organic residuals. 
  3. Capture nutrients in high value mobile streams.
  4. Produce a higher value energy output. 

The talk outlines the technical principles underlying each of the four parts, and it also shows the economic benefits from following the strategy. 

Dr. Bruce E. Rittmann is Regents' Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the science and engineering needed to “manage microbial communities to provide services to society.” Dr. Rittmann is a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a Fellow of AAAS, WEF, IWA, AEESP, and NAI; and a Distinguished Member of ASCE.   He is the co-winner of the 2018 Stockholm Water Prize. Dr. Rittmann received his BS and MS degrees in civil engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and PhD in environmental engineering from Stanford University in California.

This Distinguished Lecture is free and open to the Lehigh campus community as well as interested members of the general public.

Organizing Committee:
Gray Bebout, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Kristen Jellison, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mayuresh Kothare, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Arup Sengupta, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Chair)
Todd Watkins, Economics

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Bruce E. Rittmann

Bruce E. Rittmann, Regents' Professor of Environmental Engineering and director of Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University, will deliver the 2021 Distinguished Water Lecture on Nov. 4 in Sinclair Auditorium.