Professor Noguera’s research group works on environmental biotechnology with a focus on bioenergy and sustainability. The work with biological wastewater treatment is primarily related to minimizing energy needs in activated sludge processes by harnessing the ability of microorganisms to perform nitrogen and phosphorus removal under low dissolve oxygen conditions. Noguera's lab also works in biofuel production using photoheterotrophic bacteria to transform cellulosic biomass and organic wastes into biofuels and biofuel precursors, such as hydrogen gas and fatty acids.
We use a diversity of research tools in these projects, which involve the characterization and analysis of mixed microbial communities as well as system-level analyses of pure cultures. Research tools include bioreactors at bench and pilot scale (and sometimes full-scale), molecular-based identification techniques, metabolic modeling, different omics methods, in addition to bioinformatic tools that we have developed for the design and characterization of oligonucleotide probes and primers.
Our research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Water Research Foundation, the Office for Naval Research, The Water Environment Research Foundation, and by industrial collaborators.
Current research projects in Noguera's lab include:
- Minimization of energy requirements in biological nutrient removal
- Food waste co-digestion in wastewater treatment plants
- Production of fatty acids by photoheterotrophic bacteria
- Anaerobic degradation of aromatic compounds by photoheterotrophic bacteria