Interdisciplinary Collaboration in CePTS Brazil

USF Reclaim students Matthew Verbyla (PhD, Environmental Engineering) and Paola Gonzalez (Fulbright Fellow, Anthropology, Brazil) recently had the opportunity to visit the Sanitation Research and Training Center (CePTS; Centro de Pesquisa e Treinamento em Saneamento), which is a collaboration between the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the Sanitation Company of Minas Gerais (COPASA; Companhia de Saneamento de Minas Gerais), in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. One of the most important research and training centers for sanitation in Latin America, CePTS “encompasses several research units which receive sanitary sewage” from the local wastewater treatment plant after preliminary treatment. Of the many pilot-scale wastewater treatment technologies being studied by UFMG researchers at CePTS, is an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor, followed by stabilization ponds and a rock filter. This system produces biogas with a high percentage of methane, and treated water that can be used for restricted irrigation. The system has been monitored and studied by UFMG researchers for over 10 years now (see for a recent summary of its performance). A large focus of the CePTS center is to study sanitation technologies that offer opportunities for resource recovery, using non-mechanized or natural technologies that use minimal energy and material inputs. To learn more about CePTS and the Environmental and Sanitary Engineering Research Program at UFMG, please click here ( and

Matthew Verbyla and Paola Gonzalez at CePTS facility

Matthew Verbyla and Paola Gonzalez at CePTS facility

During this trip to Belo Horizonte, Matthew and Paola received a tour of the research facility, and worked with UFMG PhD student Daniel Dias, who was collecting water samples. They also met with UFMG engineering professor Dr. Marcos von Sperling, and attended a research colloquium hosted by the UFMG Department of Environmental and Sanitary Engineering, where graduate students presented their work and advancements that have been made in their research to a committee of professors, who provided feedback. Reclaim Network at USF is to interact with and learn from a global network of engineers and practitioners who are dedicated to understanding and developing context-specific, geographically-appropriate, and culturally-relevant systems for managing and recovering water, energy and nutrient resources.

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PIRE student Matthew Verbyla collecting samples at CePTS facility.

PIRE student Matthew Verbyla collecting samples at CePTS.

About the Author
Matthew Verbyla is postdoctoral research associate at the University of South Florida, where he studies pathogen removal in natural wastewater treatment systems and the microbial risk of water reuse in agriculture.

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