Development of low-cost sorbents for environmental applications

Program At A Glance

  Funded by

University of Cyprus "ΜΕΤΑΔΙΔΑΚΤΟΡΙΚΟΙ ΕΡΕΥΝΗΤΕΣ 2017 - 2018" Programme

  Program Period 2017-2018
  Project Acronym BIOSORB

Development of low-cost sorbents for environmental applications

  Funded Researcher Dr. Marinos Stylianou



Nireas-IWRC, GAIA Laboratory (UCY), Coordinator, Dr. Despo Fatta-Kassinos

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (UCY), SRL - Subsurface Research Laboratory, Coordinator Prof. Panos Papanastasiou

Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, Dr Anastasis Christou
Department of Chemistry, Volatolomics Research Lab. (UCY), Dr Agapios Agapiou
  Budget 29.700,00 €



In recent years it has been recognized that among the so-called contaminants of emerging concern (CEC), antibiotics present in treated wastewaters and biosolids are problematic compounds in regard to their disposal. Such substances are not removed completely by conventional methods of purification, moreover, are bioaccumulated and therefore may present a potential risk to human health. The present research project aims at utilizing the biosolid from the conventional UWTPs to produce biochar through its pyrolysis in order to enhance wastewater reuse in agriculture by adding biochar as a barrier.

The physical and chemical characterization of biochar produced will facilitate the estimation of its quality, value and perspectives as sorbent material, as well as its comparison with other biochars produced from other starting materials (manure, food waste). The produced sorbents will be evaluated through appropriate analytical methods (batch experiments) for the uptake of selected antibiotics in order to restrict the mobility, functionality and bioavailability/bioaccesibility of the antibiotics within the agricultural environment, through their sequestration and inactivation by the produced sorbents. Furthermore, field experiments will be conducted at the experimental farm of ARI at Athalassa, where crops or vegetables (e.g. alfalfa, lettuce) will be irrigated with the incorporation or not of biochar in treated urban wastewater (TW) -irrigated experimental plots. Data from experimental and field studies will be used for mathematical and physical modeling of transport and fate of the studied antibiotics.

In order to examine the ability of these sorbents to capture volatiles and inorganic gases adsorption of VOCs, CO2 and CH4 will be investigated in lab scale reactors through headspace analysis.


The methodology that will be followed in the proposed research is structured as follows:

  • WP1. Project Management
  • WP2: Dissemination of Results
  • WP3. Biochar production and characterization
  • WP4. Batch adsorption experiments
  • WP5. Field experiments
  • WP6. Mathematical and physical modeling of transport and fate of the studied CECs
  • WP7. Teaching courses
  • WP8. Eliminating gases and VOCs

The research will be hosted in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the University of Cyprus under the coordination of Dr. Despo Fatta-Kassinos and Professor Panos Papanastasiou. The consortium will include (i) Agricultural Research Institute (ARI), Dr Anastasis Christou (PA1) and (ii) Department of Chemistry (UCY), Dr Agapios Agapiou (PA2).

The acronym of this project shows exactly its approach, as it stands for the use of ECVET System for the recognition of work-based
continuous Vocational Education and Training for the personnel of Environmental Testing Laboratories. This project aspires to create
together and exchanging knowledge between the key players who can, together, address the future techno-economic,
governance and societal challenges arising from climate change. It will boost international and interdisciplinary skills, as well
as careers perspective of Experienced Researchers, Early Stage Researchers, and the workforce of industry, water utilities
and public organizations. The results will 1) benefit water utilities, 2) support political and managerial decisions in
wastewater, 3) benefit wastewater equipment manufacturers, identifying new market opportunities in the EU, 4) benefit EU
citizens from the improved wastewater infrastructure, the environment and job creations.
Higher precipitation and more frequent storms will require change in sewer water management. Moreover, higher risks of
water scarcity and droughts require increased wastewater reuse, currently at 20% of its potential in the EU. These changes
will lead to increased energy demand in a sector that is already a major contributor of carbon emissions. ALICE will promote
effective solutions based on innovative technologies, green infrastructures, climate vulnerability assessments, governance
and economic models, embracing stakeholders’ and citizens’ views to overcome barriers to the acceptance and uptake of
new technologies. The excellence of the project lies in the joined-up thinking of different perspectives and disciplines.
Academic and non-academic partners along the wastewater value-chain will exchange knowledge, develop training,
research and innovation activities. ALICE will build lasting knowledge and cooperation networks and will provide the no