Current research projects

Using Microbial Ecological Theory to Understand Microbial Community Dynamics and Improve Function of Anaerobic Bioreactors, F. L. de los Reyes III (PI), Joel J. Ducoste (co-PI), National Science Foundation. August 2018-July 2021

Reliable and Hygienic Pit Emptying Using Modified Screw Augers, F. L. de los Reyes III (PI), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oct. 2013 – Mar. 2019.

Building on our Phase I results, we will continue to improve and develop a low-cost, portable auger-based technology that can reliably and hygienically empty a wide variety of pit latrines and septic tanks (pits) containing wastes with a range of moisture contents. Thus one machine can be used in watery, low solids pits (e.g, as occur in Malawi), and high solids and trash pits (e.g., as occur in eThekwini municipality in South Africa).  We envision that a successful device will be used by local entrepreneurs or local governments in emptying pits all over the world, thus reducing the dangerous, unhygienic, and undignified practice of manual pit emptying.

EFRI-PSBR: Closing the Loop- Towards a PSBR Design Framework for Self-Sustained Marine Microalgal-Based Fuel Production, A Grunden (PI), F. L. de los Reyes III (co-PI), Joel J. Ducoste (co-PI), Ranji Ranjithan (co-PI), Heike Sederoff (co-PI), National Science Foundation,  9/1/2013 -8/31/2019

Algal oils are ideal feedstock for biofuels production, offering high production output the ability to use poor water quality (municipal wastewater, brackish water, etc.), atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), and to reuse CO2 in flue gases. However, there are several technical challenges associated with culturing and harvesting algae in current generation photosynthetic biorefineries (PSBRs). The overall goal of this project is to model, develop, implement, and evaluate a scalable PSBR that uses transformational nutrient recycle processes and supports efficient conversion of CO2 to oils in a marine microalgae-based system. Using synergistic engineering and biotechnological approaches, the team will: 1) genetically engineer a marine microalgae species (Dunaliella spp.) with enhanced CO2 uptake/fixation and the capability to recycle nitrogen and phosphorous from microalgal biomass; 2) design a small-scale PSBR using a kinetic model, which will be used to develop a scalable dynamic reactor model based on computational fluids dynamics (CFD) simulation of the PSBR; 3) develop innovative, scalable approaches for algal harvesting and lipid extraction; and 4) develop a life-cycle analysis (LCA) framework that includes flexible and scalable cost and life-cycle inventory process models of our microalgal PSBR system which will ultimately generate a robust life-cycle decision tool that can be applied to PSBR systems.

Recently completed research:

Molecular Profiling of the Prokaryotic Community in the Pitcher Fluid of Nepenthes Species from Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve, Philippines and Screening of the Bacterial Isolates for Insecticidal, Antimicrobial and Anticancer Activities, M. Hyman (PI), F. L. de los Reyes III (Co-PI), USAID STRIDE , $15,200 (04/01/2017-03-31/2018)

Inducing Aerobic Granulation in Continuous Flow Reactors Using Shear Variability, F. L. de los Reyes III (PI), Joel J. Ducoste (co-PI), National Science Foundation, 8/15/2013-8/14/2016

Improving Start-up and Operation of Anaerobic Co-digestion of Grease Interceptor Waste, F. L. de los Reyes III (PI) and T. Aziz (Co-PI), NC Water Resources Research Institute, $60,000 (3/1/2015-12/31/2016)

Improving the Anaerobic Treatment of Biosolids and High-Strength Waste Streams through Addition of Electrically-Conductive Particles, D. F. Call (PI) and F. L. de los Reyes III (Co-PI),NC Water Resources Research Institute, $60,000 (3/1/2015-12/31/2016)

Co-digestion of Grease Interceptor Waste, T. Aziz (PI) and F. L. de los Reyes III (Co-PI), NC Water Resources Research Institute, 3/1/2013-2/28/2014

Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Grease Trap Waste, F. L. de los Reyes III, T. Aziz, J. Ducoste (support from Hazen and Sawyer) 6/2012-5/2014

Effects of Kenaf on Wastewater Treatment Plant Performance and Microbiology, F. L. de los Reyes III (PI), NC Rural Economic Development Center 6/1/2011-12/31/2013