MSE Research Project Database

Application of bacteriophages for reduction of foaming in wastewater treatment

Project Leader: Anthony Stickland
Staff: Sally Gras, Greg Martin, Peter Scales
Collaborators: Daniel Tillet (Latrobe Uni)
Sponsors: Australian Research Council, Melbourne Water, SA Water, Water Corporation (WA)
Primary Contact: Anthony Stickland (
Keywords: effluent treatment; fluid dynamics; water resources
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Domains: Optimisation of resources and infrastructure
Research Centre: Particulate Fluids Processing Centre (PFPC)

Foaming causes significant operational problems during wastewater treatment and poses a risk to human health and the environment.  A new low cost approach is to use naturally occurring bacteriophage to reduce the number of microbes responsible for foaming. This project will examine the industrial applicability of this approach by applying engineering strategies to optimise the dosing and mixing of phage. The project aims to develop and validate a model of the mixing environment during aerobic digestion in combination with the microbial and phage binding and lifecycle kinetics. The model will then be used to establish a protocol for bacteriophage dosing at full scale. The project sponsors, three Australian water companies, are providing access to their wastewater treatment facilities for model validation, process development and implementation of outcomes. The project will have an immediate national impact allowing treatment facilities to recover from and prevent foaming events.