The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Dr. Ulrike Kappler

Dr. Ulrike Kappler

The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia

“Remediating Urban Sulfur Pollution Using Extremeophilic Bacteria From Soda Lakes”

Category:  Waste Minimization and Management

Urban areas around the world are the most densely populated regions and they continue to grow.  Currently, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2030, it is expected to grow to 60%, with urbanization in industrial countries reaching approximately 85%.  One of the major challenges is and will be the sustainable use of the urban environment so that a high quality of living can be achieved and maintained.  The major sources of pollution in urban environments are related to sewage, which often releases large amounts of volatile sulfur compounds, which are malodorous and toxic.  Presently, sewer gasses are treated with chemicals or by using activated charcoal beds, which require constant replenishing or exchanging of filter material.  This is expensive, and prevents their widespread use, especially in developing countries, which have the fastest growth rate of urban populations.

Dr. Kappler plans to use several species of the recently discovered alkaliphilic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria to investigate their potential for use in small scale biofilter applications, specifically designed for the treatment of sewer gas.  Biofilters are low maintenance systems and are generally much cheaper to establish and operate than chemical treatments or filtering systems, making this process widely applicable in urban settings in many different countries.

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