Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Development of new technologies for the removal of pathogenic agents and toxins from different water sources

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.02.02  Engineering sciences and technologies  Chemical engineering  Separation processes 

Code Science Field
T350  Technological sciences  Chemical technology and engineering 

Code Science Field
2.04  Engineering and Technology  Chemical engineering  
monolithic supports, pulsed electric field, wastewater, disinfection
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (28)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28000  Marko Banjac  Biotechnology  Researcher  2011 - 2012  43 
2.  12667  PhD Miloš Barut  Chemistry  Researcher  2011 - 2013  206 
3.  32190  Sara Beigot Glaser  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2011 - 2013 
4.  15395  PhD Aleš Belič  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2012 - 2013  323 
5.  24077  PhD Peter Brne  Chemistry  Researcher  2011 - 2012  28 
6.  23611  PhD Tanja Dreo  Biotechnology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  498 
7.  28558  PhD Jernej Gašperšič  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2012 - 2014  62 
8.  27827  PhD Jon Gutierrez Aguirre  Biotechnology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  361 
9.  29041  PhD Saša Haberl Meglič  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  109 
10.  30755  PhD Sandra Janežič  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2014  155 
11.  18619  PhD Maša Kandušer  Pharmacy  Researcher  2011 - 2014  160 
12.  25418  PhD Gorazd Karer  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2011  148 
13.  21577  PhD Petra Kramberger  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2011 - 2014  94 
14.  27517  PhD Vito Logar  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2011  205 
15.  33173  PhD Igor Marjanovič  Systems and cybernetics  Junior researcher  2011 - 2014  14 
16.  10268  PhD Damijan Miklavčič  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2011 - 2013  1,492 
17.  16327  PhD Matjaž Peterka  Biotechnology  Researcher  2011 - 2013  218 
18.  12728  PhD Aleš Podgornik  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2011  709 
19.  08755  PhD Mateja Poljšak-Prijatelj  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  234 
20.  05229  PhD Maja Ravnikar  Biotechnology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  1,360 
21.  12278  PhD Maja Rupnik  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  683 
22.  29635  Katja Stare  Biology  Researcher  2011  86 
23.  23519  PhD Andrej Steyer  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  204 
24.  19143  Irena Šest    Technical associate  2011 - 2014  10 
25.  10742  PhD Igor Škrjanc  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  728 
26.  00779  PhD Aleš Štrancar  Chemical engineering  Head  2011 - 2014  479 
27.  33511  PhD Valerija Tkalec  Microbiology and immunology  Junior researcher  2011 - 2013  53 
28.  09864  PhD Magda Tušek Žnidarič  Biology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  412 
Organisations (5)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,315 
2.  0381  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine  Ljubljana  1627066  46,173 
3.  1538  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering  Ljubljana  1626965  27,596 
4.  1655  Sartorius BIA Separations L.t.d., Separations technology company  Ajdovščina  1319612  1,189 
5.  3334  National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Foodstaffs  Maribor  6489087  4,700 
Different pathogenic agents can be present in drinking, irrigation and recreational waters, as a consequence of different factors such as, waste water release, natural disasters, bioterrorism, and/or due to the release of agricultural, industrial and medical residues into water systems. Among these pathogenic agents we can find plant, human and animal viruses and bacteria. One of the key areas within the sustainable development in the increasingly globalized world is the waste water treatment and the management of the treated water effluents or discharges generated in water treatment plants. Such effluents are usually released into environmental waters (fresh or sea water), or alternatively, recycled as irrigation water for agricultural use. Non treated waste water is enriched in toxic heavy metals, as well as pathogenic viruses and bacteria, along with bacterial endotoxins and bacterial DNA. Typical waste water treatment (including sedimentation, active sludge formation, filtration...) does not completely remove the pathogenic viruses and bacteria from the treated water and, therefore, due to health safety reasons, additional disinfection measures need to be applied before using such water for subsequent purposes. Typical disinfection measures are based on chlorine, ozone or UV treatment. Such methods are not efficient against certain pathogens, bacterial endotoxins and bacterial free DNA. In addition, in the case of ozone and chlorine, they result in the formation of hazardous disinfection-by products.   Within the proposed research project we will investigate and evaluate the water disinfection potential of combining two different innovative technologies in order to remove pathogenic bacteria and viruses, as well as bacterial endotoxins and bacterial free DNA. The first technology will be based on the disruption of pathogenic bacteria by irreversible electroporation that consists of Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) application. For effective PEF treatment electric pulse parameters will be optimized in order to achieve the most efficient treatment while minimizing potential toxic product formation that may result from electrode reactions .The second technology will relay on the electrostatic binding of pathogenic viruses and bacterial toxins and DNA to Convective Interaction Media (CIM®) monolithic supports. Monolithic chromatographic supports (developed by the Slovenian company BIA Separations) represent a new generation of chromatographic supports with a structure that allows operating at high flow rates, while at the same time the conferring high dynamic capacity for large molecules. The proposed methods will be optimized with special emphasis on avoiding or minimizing the release or formation of disinfection by-products, and therefore they may constitute a cleaner alternative to classic chemical disinfection methods such as chlorine treatment. The outcome of the project will serve to obtain a proof of principle that will be tested in different water samples, such us waste water treatment plant effluent and drinking water supply, and may be used in future applications of water treatment for removal of pathogenic bio pollutants.   The interdisciplinary project team will include research groups from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering (leaded by Dr Damjan Miklavčič) and the Faculty of Medicine–Institute of Microbiology and Immunology (leaded by Dr Mateja Poljšak-Prijatelj), both from University of Ljubljana, the National Institute of Biology (leaded by Dr Maja Ravnikar) and the Institute of Public Health Maribor (leaded by Dr Maja Rupnik), the high-tech company BIA Separations (leaded by Dr Aleš Štrancar), as a potential end user the waste water treatment plant Domžale (leaded by Dr Marjeta Stražar), and an international project partner Dr Justin Teissie from the Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale (IPBS) CNRS France.
Significance for science
Pulsed electric field and monolith chromatography are methods that are already used in different applications, however in the frame of this project they were used as tools for disruption and/or removal of pathogenic microbes (bacteria and viruses) from water samples. To use these tools in such application, conditions for binding of different viruses on monolithic chromatography columns were optimised with the purpose to enable their efficient binding, concentration, improve their diagnostics and enable their simultaneous removal from water samples. For disruption and / or removal of bacteria from water samples high voltage electrical pulses (in static and flow mode) were used to enable irreversible bacterial lysis and therefore their eradication. The result of the skills and knowledge of all project partners together with the research conducted in the frame of this project resulted in a proof of principle that combines short electrical pulses and CIM monolithic chromatography for purification of waste water effluent which can address issues related to wastewater and drinking water quality as well as recreational waters.
Significance for the country
Due to intensive use in agriculture, as well as to other industry factors, the quantity of clean water is rapidly decreasing. People and industries are particularly concerned when affected by natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes or ultimately the uncontrolled use of microorganisms. The technology developed in this project represents a new tool for the treatment of waste water that can be reused in the production of food or irrigation. As such, it is certainly interesting for waste water treatment plants, water supply systems, swimming pools, military missions, etc. The results of the project will certainly be of high interest for a wide professional and laic audience, as well as for the agencies of the ministries of agriculture, environment, health and defence, since the developed technology can be implemented in different segments of the infrastructure for safer use of water resources. Both industrial partners (BIA separations and wastewater treatment plant Domžale) could use the developed techniques and acquired knowledge for the design and testing of a pilot scale device at the wastewater treatment plant Domžale. The proposed innovative approach has the potential for the future production of easy to use equipment which could be marketed globally. In addition, the results of this study are interesting also for all large and small manufacturing companies dealing with waste water treatment and its recirculation in the environment. The knowledge generated during the study was also transferred through the educational process directed to students in the field of biotechnology, electrical engineering, medicine and chemistry. In addition, several doctoral students were working on the project.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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