"Environment" research area

Aerobic Bioremediation of Selenium in Industrial Wastewaters

Primary Investigator - Cara SantelliPrimary InvestigatorCara Santelli
Industry Partners: CH2M
Award Type: Seed Grant - Graduate Research Scholar

Problem: Selenium is a toxic element found in many industrial waste streams. Anaerobic bioremediation is used to reduce selenium to an insoluble form that is filtered out before releasing the waste stream to the environment. However, these anaerobic conditions sometimes necessitate further treatment and cannot be used on all waste streams. 

Solution: Aerobic bacteria and fungi are known to also reduce selenium to insoluble forms but are thus far not used in selenium bioremediation. Dr. Cara Santelli seeks to develop and optimize an aerobic bioremediation system to circumvent issues associated with anaerobic systems.

Impact: The development of an aerobic selenium bioremediation system will alleviate the complexities of anaerobic bioremediation for industrial wastewater treatment. The system may also be applied in northeastern Minnesota to treat groundwater with naturally elevated selenium levels and discharge from proposed mining operations that may exceed selenium limits.