News from the COST Action (ES1302) Meeting, Porto (5-7th March)

Our COST Action on ‘The Ecological roles of Trace Metals in Anaerobic Biotechnologies’ (COST Action ES1302) held its first set of Working Group (WG) meetings and Management Committee meeting last week in Porto, Portugal.

Our venue was the CIIMAR (Centre for Interdisciplinary Marine and Environmental Research – Centro Interdisciplinar De Investigação Marinha E Ambiental) at the University of Porto.

Our COST Action has four WGs – on metal speciation and bioavailability; microbiology; engineering and industry challenges; fate of trace metal in the environment; and modeling. I’m really pleased that we seem set to integrate the activities of the WGs in very real ways and I’m looking forward to helping lead the Microbiology WG to important outputs.

A big focus of the Action is trace metals in anaerobic digestion (AD) technologies. The impact of trace metals is significant for industrial operators of AD plants and metal dosing strategies are important for optimal biogas production. Thus, learning more about the roles of trace metals in AD systems is an interesting research area; furthermore, the fate of metals from AD plants after discharge to the environment is also important and the area opens the possibility of closing the loop to recover metals back for AD supplementation.

Our PhD student, Robert Dillon, is now the secretary of the Microbiology WG of the Action. Robert and another NUI Galway student, Yan Yang (Civil Engineering) accompanied me to Porto. We’ve learned a lot from the meeting and I’m keen to incorporate trace metal research into more of our projects.

Our Action will next meet formally at the Biogas Science meeting in Vienna in October (http://biogas2014.boku.ac.at), but we hope to assemble the view of all of the Action’s participants before then so that we make progress in this important field quickly.

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