Professor Allen’s research interest is in Bioprocess Engineering. His group’s main area of activity is in biological wastewater treatment, particularly as it relates to the pulp and paper industry. 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. Professor Allen’s group is also examining the potential for in-mill water re-use.
More recently, Professor Allen’s group has been focusing on biologically producing value added products (energy, biopolymers) from wastes and the processing of biological sludges. His research group has several projects that examine the fundamentals of biosludge dewatering, and apply novel biopolymers and processes to enhance biosolids processing and reduce energy costs. His research group is also investigating strategies to optimize anaerobic conversion of wastewater and biosolids into fuel. Another new area involves utilizing wastewater and waste carbon dioxide to grow microalgae for the production of fuels and chemicals. Professor Allen’s group has developed a patented ‘wave guide’ technology for growing algal biofilms that will reduce wastewater treatment energy costs.