Ir. Magela Odriozola

Magela has a background in Chemical Engineering, with an explicit interest in modelling, optimization and control in wastewater treatment systems. In 2011, she completed her Engineering Degree (5 years diploma degree equivalent) in Chemical Engineering at the Universidad de la República (UdelaR) in Uruguay. Then, in 2014, she completed her MSc (2 years diploma) in Chemical Engineering at the same university. Magela conducted her thesis under the supervision of Prof. Liliana Borzacconi and Dr. Ir. Iván López. She has successfully developed, implemented and validated a comprehensive model to predict granular development and reactor performance in anaerobic granular sludge reactors. The core of the thesis was published in a peer reviewed journal in 2016. During her master thesis she developed her interest in modelling as a tool for control and optimization in wastewater treatment.

Next to her education, Magela has been a research and teaching assistant at the UdelaR since 2008. She participated in different research projects in the Biotechnological Processes for the Environment (BIOPROA) group at the Institute of Chemical Engineering. BIOPROA group’s activities focuses on implementing new ideas/technologies for anaerobic digestion, based upon fundamental research and partnership with industry and on the optimization of existing technologies/operations. Additionally, she has been a teaching assistant in two undergraduate courses for Chemical Engineering students: “Fundamentals of Chemical Engineering” for 3 and “Process Dynamics and Control”) for 6 years. Her interest in modelling drove her to be co-responsible for a workshop entitled “Simulation and Parameter Estimation with Matlab” for graduate students from the Chemical Engineering Institute.

Outside the academic world, from 2010 to 2012 she worked at Sachedi Ltda., a Uruguayan Chemical Industry. Her duties included the operation management of the wastewater treatment plant and R&D engineering in different projects. Before enrolling in her current PhD, she worked for 6 months as a technical consultant for a project on chemical treatment of shavings from tanned hides and skins, at Biofrance Ltda (Uruguay).

Magela is currently a PhD researcher on the BioWaMet project that proposes Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR) as an innovative technology for municipal wastewater treatment. Her research focuses on online fouling control in AnMBR systems and her thesis is being performed under the supervision of Dr.Ir. Henri Spanjers and Prof. Dr. Jules van Lier.  She is a very enthusiastic person who is always looking for new challenges and has special interest in international collaboration.

Social and scientific relevance of the PhD project

Water scarcity is a severe worldwide problem that rises the interest in sustainable wastewater treatment to produce reclaimed water, reduce energy and environmental impacts while recovering resources. AnMBR technology couples the widely proved advantages of the anaerobic digestion process, namely biogas production and low sludge generation, with disinfection by membrane filtration. The biogas can be used to generate calorific energy and/or electric power. Additionally, anaerobic digestion does not require oxygen supply and consequently the energy consumption is significantly reduced. Therefore, AnMBR is a promising technology for sustainable wastewater treatment. However, low flux caused by membrane fouling is the main factor determining the economic feasibility and applicability of AnMBR technology. Lower fluxes translate into higher membrane surface requirements and membranes represent a significant cost in AnMBR systems. The development of an online fouling control strategy to stabilize and enhance flux will contribute to position the AnMBR as an economically feasible technology.

Magela Odriozola

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