Ehssan H. Koupaie

Assistant Professor

Tel: (613) 533-6000 ext. 77931
Fax: (613) 533-6637
Email: ehssan.koupaie@queensu.ca 
Office: Dupuis Hall 303

BIO

Before joining Queen’s University, Dr. Ehssan Koupaie was an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto. He was also affiliated with BioZone, The Centre for Applied Bioscience & Bioengineering Research and The Pulp & Paper Centre at the University of Toronto as well as The Bioreactor Technology Group at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Koupaie received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of British Columbia, Canada, in 2017. During his Ph.D., he collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from environmental engineering, electrical engineering, and physics disciplines. This collaboration led to the development of a novel energy-efficient radio frequency (RF) thermal hydrolysis technology for enhanced conversion of wastewater sludge to biomethane.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

We live in a world in which both energy systems and waste management practices are changing. The threat of climate change due to the release of greenhouse gases along with soaring energy demand and natural resource depletion are major driving forces behind the creation of more sustainable strategies for the management of organic waste streams. In this regard, the implementation of technologies such as anaerobic digestion (AD) and fermentation processes that can achieve simultaneous treatment and energy/resource recovery is playing a significant role in the circular economy. Organic waste includes but not limited to food waste, wastewater sludge, animal manure, pulp & paper sludge, and agricultural biomass. In Canada, more than 22 million tons of food waste, 30 million tons of municipal sludge, and 50 million tons of pulp & paper sludge are produced annually. The improper disposal of organic waste poses not only environmental, social, and health risks to the local area but also has severe impacts on the global environment. For instance, the disposal of 1.3 billion tons of food waste in landfills participates in the annual release of more than 3 million tons of, a known greenhouse gas, worldwide.

Our research revolves around Environmental BioEngineering and aims to generate sustainable, cost-effective, and energy-efficient techniques for enhanced conversion of organic waste into bioenergy, biofuels, and value-added chemicals. Our team not only employs innovative approaches for answering some of the fundamental questions in the field but also investigates ways to address the major limitations of the currently used technologies. Our research integrates the principles and practices of anaerobic digestion (AD), dark fermentation, thermal hydrolysis, microbiology, and nanotechnology. The primary area of our current research is to understand the fundamentals of thermal hydrolysis and the subsequent AD process for enhanced conversion of various organic waste. This research currently focuses on the following topics:

  • Identification of recalcitrant compounds formed during intensive pretreatment conditions
  • Assessment of microbial community dynamics throughout advanced AD
  • Investigation of organic mass transfer during thermal hydrolysis
  • Fate and transformation of micropollutants throughout the thermal hydrolysis process and the subsequent AD process
  • Application of direct interspecies electron transfer compounds for enhanced methanogenesis rate during the advanced AD process