Dr. ir. Jo De Vrieze

Telephone number: 
+32 9/264 59 77
Postdoctoral staff


Since 2010, the research of Dr. ir. Jo De Vrieze focused on microbial anaerobic processes. Initially, his research mainly involved the study of renewable energy production through anaerobic digestion during his PhD. Several approaches were investigated to increase methane production in anaerobic digestion by (in)direct steering of the microbial community. A main focus was placed on the methanogenic community. Both operational management strategies, i.e. co-digestion, feeding pattern variation and inoculum selection, and technological strategies, i.e. the application of a cell potential by means of a carbon felt electrodes and active biomass retention by means of an anaerobic membrane unit, were evaluated in terms of their potential to enhance biogas production in anaerobic digestion.

During his postdoctoral fellowship, his research focus was extended beyond the borders of anaerobic digestion to alternative anaerobic microbial processes for renewable energy production (e.g. biogas upgrading), carboxylate production (e.g. fermentation) and nutrient/resource recovery. A diverse matrix of both direct (such as membrane and carrier based systems) and indirect (such as the development of alternative process indicators and the redesign of process flows) technological applications is being investigated to increase the overall efficiency and sustainability of these anaerobic microbial processes, which are central to his research. The final aim is to bring these strategies from lab-scale “proofs of principle” to reliable full-scale technological applications.

For a complete Academic Bibliography, see https://biblio.ugent.be/person/802000899611


Jo De Vrieze has been involved in several courses at the Bachelors and Masters level. He is currently co-lecturer of the course Microbial Ecological Processes in which he mainly focuses on important (engineered) microbial processes, such as greenhouse gas production, soil remediation and sustainable agriculture. He obtained excellent student evaluations for this course. He also acts as guest lecturer in the course Microbial Technology for Re-Use. During his PhD research, he coordinated the PC-exercises for the courses Microbial Technology for Re-Use, Biotechnological Processes in Environmental Sanitation, and Microbial Ecological Processes. He is currently co-supervisor of a PhD student. He also (co-)supervised more than 15 master students, both as promotor and tutor, of which several obtained one or more awards. He also supervised bachelor projects and internship students.

International research stays and workshops

During his PhD research, Jo De Vrieze engaged an international research stay of three months at the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Santiago de Compostela (March – May 2014). In the second year of his postdoctoral research, he spent three months at the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow (March – May 2016). He also participated in several international specialist courses, and he also followed several additional courses, including the basic Assistant training.

Selected key publications: 
De Vrieze, J., Coma, M., Debeuckelaere, M., Van der Meeren, P., Rabaey, K. 2016. High salinity in molasses wastewaters shifts anaerobic digestion to carboxylate production. Water Research, 98, 293-301
De Vrieze, J., Saunders, A.M., He, Y., Nielsen, P.H., Verstraete, W., Boon, N. 2015. Ammonia and temperature determine potential clustering in the anaerobic digestion microbiome. Water Research, 75, 312-323
Desloover, J., De Vrieze, J., Van de Vijver, M., Mortelmans, J., Rozendal, R., Van Der Eycken, W. & Rabaey, K. 2015. Electrochemical nutrient recovery enables ammonia toxicity control and biogas desulfurization in anaerobic digestion. Environmental Science & Technology, 49, 948-955
De Vrieze J., Gildemyn, S., Arends, J.B.A., Vanwonterghem, I., Verbeken, K., Boon N., Verstraete, W., Tyson, G.W., Hennebel, T., Rabaey, K. 2014. Biomass retention on electrodes rather than electrical current enhances stability in anaerobic digestion. Water Research, 54, 211-221
De Vrieze, J., Hennebel, T., Boon, N., Verstraete, W. 2012. Methanosarcina: The rediscovered methanogen for heavy duty biomethanation. Bioresource Technology, 112, 1-9