Chemical Engineering


CHEE342 : Environmental Biotechnology



Juliana RamsayDupuis 425juliana.ramsay@queensu.ca613-533-2770


Course Description

This course gives a broad perspective of the use of microbial systems to treat environmental pollutants and of microorganisms as potential environmental contaminants. Biogeochemical cycles and their applications to processes such as the desulphurization of coal and crude oil, biocorrosion, mineral (eg. uranium, copper and iron) leaching, the degradation of organic compounds, and nitrate removal from drinking water will be studied. Microbial waste disposal systems such as composting and soil bioremediation and the role of biotechnology in waste minimization will be examined. Microorganisms found in air, soil and water, their detection, enumeration and control will be discussed.

Prerequisites: APSC 131, APSC 132, and CHEE 229, (or BIOL 102 and BIOL 103) or permission of the department

Objectives and Outcomes

This course applies biochemical and microbial principles in the use of microbial systems to minimize or remediate environmental problems (such as acid mine drainage) and to examine microorganisms as the cause of environmental concerns (as in clean drinking water).  The application of biogeochemical cycles to processes such as the desulphurization of coal and crude oil, biocorrosion, mineral (eg uranium, copper and iron) leaching and composting will be studied. The role of biotechnology in replacing chemicals derived from the petrochemical industry will also be examined.

Specific course learning outcomes (CLO) include:

  1. Describe the role of microorganisms in processes such as biofilm formation, biocorrosion, mineral leaching, composting, clean drinking water
  2. Explain how environmental conditions can be manipulated to enhance or retard the above processes
  3. Summarize the significance of the biorefinery concept and explain how plant biomass can be converted to fermentable substrates and subsequently microbially transformed into biochemicals, biopolymers and biofuels
  4. Critically analyze relevant journal articles and investigate industrial application of the above concepts

The course assesses the following attributes:

  • Knowledge base for engineering: Applies foundations of mathematics, science, and engineering in biological, pharmaceutical and environmental problems or processes.   (CLO1- CLO4)
  • Communications: Delivers clear and organized written communication with accurate use of technical vocabulary, while demonstrating conciseness, precision and clarify of language in technical writing (CLO4).

Relevance to the Program

This engineering science course covers aspects of microbial metabolism and microbially-mediated environmental and industrial problems or processes.  It builds on the fundamentals of CHEE 229 -Cell based Engineering Principles and the engineering skills taught in this course are complementary in 3rd and 4th year courses (CHEE 370 – Waste Treatment Processes, CHEE 380 – Biochemical Engineering, and CHEE 484 - Bioremediation).

Course Structure and Activities

3 lecture hours + 1 tutorial hour per week.  Please see Solus for detailed schedule.


There is no text book for this course.  The majority of assigned readings will be journal review articles, with links available on onQ at the appropriate lecture section.