Environmental Biotechnology

Environmental Biotechnology

A Biosystems Approach

1st Edition - March 19, 2010

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  • Author: Daniel Vallero
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123785510

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Environmental Biotechnology: A Biosystems Approach introduces a systems approach to environmental biotechnology and its applications to a range of environmental problems. A systems approach requires a basic understanding of four disciplines: environmental engineering, systems biology, environmental microbiology, and ecology. These disciplines are discussed in the context of their application to achieve specific environmental outcomes and to avoid problems in such applications. The book begins with a discussion of the background and historical context of contemporary issues in biotechnology. It then explains the scientific principles of environmental biotechnologies; environmental biochemodynamic processes; environmental risk assessment; and the reduction and management of biotechnological risks. It describes ways to address environmental problems caused or exacerbated by biotechnologies. It also emphasizes need for professionalism in environmental biotechnological enterprises. This book was designed to serve as a primary text for two full semesters of undergraduate study (e.g., Introduction to Environmental Biotechnology or Advanced Environmental Biotechnology). It will also be a resource text for a graduate-level seminar in environmental biotechnology (e.g., Environmental Implications of Biotechnology).

Key Features

  • Provides a systems approach to biotechnologies which includes the physical, biological, and chemical processes in context
  • Case studies include cutting-edge technologies such as nanobiotechnologies and green engineering
  • Addresses both the applications and implications of biotechnologies by following the life-cycle of a variety of established and developing biotechnologies


Researchers in environmental biology, nanotechnology, systems biology and microbiology; environmental engineers; scientists at engineering and remediation companies and public organizations; practitioners in applied biology fields; graduate and post-doctoral students in these areas of science

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Environmental Biotechnology: An Overview
    Assessing the Biotechnological Impacts
    Biotechnology and Bioengineering
     Discussion Box: Little Things Matter in a Chaotic World
    The Environmental Biotechnology Discipline
      Biotechnology and Society
    Risk and Reliability: Some Forethought
    Beyond Biotechnological Applications
    Oh No!
    The Science of Environmental Biotechnology
    Boxes and Envelopes
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 2: A Question of Balance: Using versus Abusing Biological Systems
     Environmental Biomimicry
     Engineered Systems Inspired by Biology
    Environmental Biochemodynamics
     Biophile Cycling
      Carbon Sequestration in Soil
      Active Sequestration
    Nitrogen and Sulfur Biochemodynamics
    Review Questions
    Notes and Resources

    Chapter 3: Environmental Biochemodynamic Processes
    Cellular Thermodynamics
      Importance of Free Energy in Microbial Metabolism
      Phase Partitioning
     Thermodynamics in Abiotic and Biotic Systems
      Volatility/Solubility/Density Relationships
      Environmental Balances
      Persistent Bioaccumulating Toxic Substances
      Discussion Box: The Inuit and Persistent Organic Pollutants
       Extrinsic Factors
     Biochemodynamic Persistence and Half-Life
     Fugacity, Z Values, and Henry’s Law
      Aerodynamic and Hydrodynamic Dispersion
     Overall Effect of the Fluxes, Sinks and Sources
     Biochemodynamic Transport Models
     Level 1 Model
    Level 2 Model
    Level 3 Model
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 4: Systems
     Biotechnological Systems
     Putting Biology to Work
     Systems Synergies: Biotechnological Analysis
     Using Bioindicators
     Relationship between Green Engineering and Biotechnology
     Review Questions

    Chapter 5: Environmental Risks of Biotechnologies
    Estimating Biotechnological Risks
    Exposure Estimation
      Discussion Box: Exposure Calculation
     Direct Bioengineering Risk Calculations
    Discussion Box: Cancer Risk Calculation
    Discussion Box: Non-cancer Risk Calculation
    Risk-based cleanup standards
    Discussion Box: Treatment by Genetic Modification
      Discussion Box: Risk-Based Contaminant Cleanup
      Discussion Box: Biotechnical Communications
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 6: Reducing Biotechnological Risks
      Case Study Box: Genetic Biocontrols of Invaders
     Discussion Box: Discussion Box: Biochemodynamics of Pharmaceuticals
     Risk Causes
      Biographical Box: Sir Bradford Hill
     Case Study Box: Managing Risks by Distinguishing between Progenitor and Genetically Modified Microbes
     Failure: Human Factors Engineering
      Utility as a Measure of Success
      Failure Type 1: Mistakes and Miscalculations
    Failure Type 2: Extraordinary Natural Circumstances
    Failure Type 3: Critical Path
    Failure Type 4: Negligence
    Failure Type 5: Lack of Imagination
    Bioterrorism: Bad Biotechnology
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 7: Applied Microbial Ecology: Bioremediation
    Systematic View of Oxygen
    Biodegradation and Bioremediation
    Biochemodynamics of Biodegradation
      Off-site Treatment
    Discussion Box: Biochemodynamic Films
    Aerobic Biodegradation
      Trickling Filter
    Activated Sludge
    Aeration Ponds
    Anaerobic Biodegradation
    Multimedia-Multiphase Bioremediation
    Bioengineering Considerations for Genetically Modified Organisms
     Discussion Box: Measuring Biodegradation Success
       Nitric Oxide as an Indicator of Degradation
       Humility in Biotechnological Modeling
     Developing an Indirect, Chemical Model of Microbial Activity
    Model Comparison to Laboratory Study for Toluene Degradation
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 8: Biotechnological Implications: A Systems Approach
     Systematic View of Biotechnological Risks
     Applied Thermodynamics
     Predicting Environmental Implications
     Environmental Implications of Engineering Organisms
     Genetic Engineering Basics
      Conventional Breeding Approaches
      Modification of Organisms without Introducing Foreign DNA
    Modification of Organisms by Introducing Foreign DNA
    Transfected DNA
    Vector-borne DNA
    Environmental Aspects of Cisgenic and Transgenic Organisms
    Foreign DNA in Plants
    Biochemodynamic Flow of Modified Genetic Material
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 9: Environmental Risks of Biotechnologies: Economic Sector Perspectives
     Industrial Biotechnology
      Production of Enzymes
      The Organism
      Health and Safety Regulations
      Environmental Implications
     Medical Biotechnology
      Discussion Box: Patenting Life
      Bio-Uptake and Bioaccumulation
      Discussion Box: Hormonally Active Agents
       Determining Estrogenicity
       Environmental Fate of Endocrine Disrupting Compounds
       Treatment of EDCs in Drinking Water – UV applications
       Modeling the UV/H2O2 Process
      Environmental Implications
      Animal Biotechnology
     Agricultural Biotechnology
    Discussion Box: “King Corn or Frankencorn”
       Genetic Modification
      Gene Flow
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 10: Addressing Biotechnological Pollutants
     Cleaning Up Biotechnological Operations
    Intervention at the Source of Contamination
    Intervention at the Point of Release
    Intervention during Transport
    Intervention to Control the Exposure
    Intervention at the Point of Response
    Thermal Treatment of Biotechnological Wastes
    Calculating Destruction Removal
    Other Thermal Strategies
    Nitrogen and Sulfur Problems
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 11: Analyzing the Environmental Implications of Biotechnologies
       Discussion Box: Biological Agent: Stachybotrys
    Life Cycle as an Analytical Methodology
     Revisiting Failure and Blame
     Environmental Accountability
     Life Cycle Applications
    Utility and the Benefit/Cost Analysis
    Predicting Environmental Damage
      Analysis of Biotechnological Implications
      Checklist for Ethical Decision Making
    Review Questions
    Notes and Commentary

    Chapter 12: Managing Biotechnologies
     Bioengineering Perspectives
     Systematic Biotechnology and the Status Quo
     A Few Words about Environmental Ethics
     Biotechnology Decision Tools
      Informing Decisions
     Green Engineering and Biotechnology
     Green Engineering and Biotechnology
      Discussion Box: Probability and Biotechnology
     Risk Homeostasis and the Theory of Offsetting Behavior
     Review Questions
     Notes and Commentary
    Appendix 1
    Appendix 2

Product details

  • No. of pages: 750
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2010
  • Published: March 19, 2010
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123785510

About the Author

Daniel Vallero

Daniel Vallero
Professor Daniel A. Vallero is an internationally recognized author and expert in environmental science and engineering. He has devoted decades to conducting research, teaching, and mentoring future scientists and engineers. He is currently developing tools and models to predict potential exposures to chemicals in consumer products. He is a full adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. He has authored 20 environmental textbooks, with the most recent addressing the importance of physical principles in environmental science and engineering. His books have addressed all environmental compartments and media within the earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.

Affiliations and Expertise

Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

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