D. Grant Allen

grant allenProfessor
B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Waterloo), F.C.I.C., F.A.A.A.S., P.Eng.
Chair, Dept. of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry
Principal Investigator, Bioprocess Engineering Lab and BioZone – Centre for Applied Bioscience and BioengineeringRoom: WB221 | Tel.: 416-978-8517 | Email: dgrant.allen@utoronto.ca


Honours & Awards

The Professor Diran Basmadjian Teacher of the Year Award, Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
Fellow, Chemical Institute of Canada
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Fellow, Canadian Academy of Engineering
Fellow, Engineering Institute of Canada
LeSuer Memorial Award for Technical Excellence, Society of the Chemical Industry, Canada


American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association for Engineering Education.
Chemical Institute of Canada
Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering
International Water Association
Professional Engineers of Ontario

Research Interests

Environmental Bioprocess Engineering Research

Bioprocess engineering is an exciting and growing field in which chemical engineering principles are applied to the use of biologically-based processes. The field is interdisciplinary, involving biotechnology, chemical engineering, microbiology and biochemistry and has a wide range of application areas including the production of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and the treatment of industrial wastes. Students can focus on fundamental engineering, chemistry and/or biology and interact with other faculty and industry on problems of economic and social importance.

One of my main areas of activity is in biological wastewater treatment, particularly as it relates to the pulp and paper industry. This is already applied in industry on a wide scale and continues to show enormous further potential, because of increasingly stringent environmental controls, an emphasis on minimum impact technologies, advances in biotechnology and the remarkable ability of microorganisms (wild or genetically engineered) to degrade a wide range of pollutants. The work to date has been on understanding and optimizing the biological treatment of chlorinated organic compounds and other bioactive compounds from kraft pulp mills, and we are also examining the potential for in-mill water re-use.

More recently, we have been focusing on biologically producing value added products (energy, biopolymers) from wastes and the processing of biological sludges. Specifically, we have several projects that examine the fundamentals of biosludge dewatering and applying novel biopolymers and processes to enhance biosolids processing, reducing energy costs and the environmental footprint.   We also are investigating strategies to optimize anaerobic conversion of wastewater and biosolids into fuel. Another new area involves the utilizing wastewater and waste carbon dioxide to grow microalgae and convert it into fuels and chemicals. In particular, we have developed a patented ‘wave guide’ technology for growing algal biofilms that will reduce energy costs and allow us to effectively treat wastewater with reduced footprint.

The biological treatment of waste of gas streams is another exciting area of interest. The technology is being applied in Europe extensively and, because of its economic and environmental benefits will see increasing development and application in North America. The research includes projects on bed design, kinetics, microbiology and modeling.

Many of the projects involve looking more in depth at the microbial processes involved in collaboration with microbiologists Professors Roberta Fulthorpe and Steven Liss. In particular, we are interested in how bioreactor operation influences the microbial community and physical/chemical properties of biofilms and flocs in these treatment systems and how this in turn affects transport processes such as mass transfer and settling. We apply advanced molecular techniques such as DNA fingerprinting to probe microbial community structure and advance microscopy and physical chemical measurements to analyze the physical matrix (biofloc or biofilm).

Our projects also often involve collaborations among engineers, microbiologists, biologists and chemists and also provide opportunities for advanced professional development (communication skills, team skills, etc.) All of these areas have both engineering (e.g., kinetics, modeling, optimization) and microbiology (e.g., identification, monitoring, molecular biology) aspects and have received significant funding from government and industry through the Pulp and Paper Centre.

Selected Publications

Genin S.N., Aitchison J.S. and Allen D.G. (2015, in press). “Novel Waveguide for Enhancing Algal Biofilm Growth”, Algal Research

Dumitrache, A., Eberl, H., Allen, D.G., and Wolfaardt, G.M. “Mathematical Modeling to Validate Online CO2  Measurements as a Metric for Cellulolytic Biofilm Activity in Continuous-flow Bioreactors”, Biochemical Engineering Journal 101: 55-67, 2015.

Namazi, A.B.,  Allen, D.G. and Jia, C.Q., 2105. “Microwave Assisted Pyrolysis of Pulp Mill Sludge for Char Production ”, Biomass Bioenerg, Vol. 73, February, pp 217-224, 2015.

Schnurr, P.J., Espie, G.S. and Allen, D.G.  2014.  The Effect of Light Direction and Suspended Cell Concentrations on Algal Biofilm Growth Rates.  Appl Microbiol Biot 98:8553-8562.

Azimi, Y., Allen, D.G., Seto, P. and Farnood, R. 2014. “Effect of Activated Sludge Retention Time, Operating Temperature and Influent Phosphorus Deficiency on Floc Physicochemical Characteristics and UV Disinfection”, Ind Eng Chem Res.53: 12485-12493.

Azimi. Y., Allen. D. G. and Farnood. R. 2014.  “Enhancing Disinfection by Advanced Oxidation under UV Irradiation in Polyphosphate-containing Wastewater Flocs”, Water Res, 54: 179-187

Genin, S.N., Aitchison, J. S. and Allen D.G, 2014. “Design of Algal Film Photobioreactors: Material Surface Energy Effects on Algal Film Productivity, Colonization and Lipid Content”, Bioresour. Technol. 155C, 136-143

Mowla D, Tran HN and Allen DG. 2013. “A review of the Properties of Biosludge and its Relevance to
Enhance Dewatering Processes”. Biomass and Bioenergy. 58: 365-378.

Dumitrache, A., Wolfaardt, G.M., Allen, D.G., Liss, S.N. and Lynd, L.R., 2013. “Tracking the Cellulolytic Activity of Clostridium thermocellum Biofilms”, Biotechnology for Biofuels 6, 175-189

Garcia Becerra, F.Y., Acosta, E.J. and  Allen, D.G., 2012. Wood Adhesives based on Alkaline Extracts from Wastewater Biosolids and Mustard Protein”, Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society 89, 1315-1323

Irving, T.E. and Allen, D.G. 2011. Species and Material Considerations in the Formation and Development of Microalgal Biofilms, Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 92(2), 283-294 (NSERC)

Hayes, A.C.,  Liss, S.N. and Allen, D.G. 2010. Growth Kinetics of Hyphomicrobium and Thiobacillus spp. In Mixed Cultures Degrading Dimethyl Sulphide and Methanol Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76, 5423-5431