Energetic, environmental and economic challenges (ES1202)


The conception of sustainable WWTPs needs to be based on innovative technologies developed under the following criteria: integration - including a system wide view of the plant (balance between water, sludge, energy and gases); multi-disciplinary approach- including technical, environmental, energetic, social and economical aspects and flexibility- with a WWTP adapted to the specific requirements of each country (size, location, point of discharge, etc.). This is aimed in this Action by means of an effective cooperation between experts from different fields, stakeholders and countries, participating in four different Working Groups (WGs).

WG1. Energetic self-sufficiency

Options for minimising energy consumption and optimising energy production will be investigated, aiming at converting WWTPs in net energy providers. This includes activities on energy efficient processes, such as low-temperature autotrophic nitrogen removal, anaerobic – aerobic hybrid MBRs, membrane aerated biofilm reactors, supercritical water oxidation, etc.; as well as on energy recovery alternatives, like Sewage sludge (co-)incineration or anaerobic (co-)digestion, microalgae photobioreactors integrated with anaerobic (co)digestion and bioelectrochemical systems (microbial fuel cells, hydrogen, etc.).

WG2: Resource recovery

The challenge is to conceive WWTPs not only as treatment facilities but also as producers of valuable resources by means of sustainable processes, as nutrients (e.g. ammonium nitrate from sludge, biomass digestion rejection water or urine; phosphorus as struvite; sludge composting, biochar production, etc.), bioenergy (WG1), bioplastics (e.g. production of storage polymers) and reclaimed water.

WG3: Minimising environmental and economic impacts

The economic and environmental impact of implementing innovative technologies will be assessed in terms of operational cost savings, monetary valuation of environmental benefits and LCA. Emerging contaminants, odours and GHG will be targeted pollutants included in these studies.

WG4: Process integration (DSS, control, modelling, optimisation)

WWTPs should be analyzed from an integral and multi-criteria point of view as the optimal configuration might not be the result of combining the optimum unit processes. Additionally, technological, environmental, social and economical criteria are not always convergent. The main deliverable of this WG is a DSS that incorporates those criteria in order to conceive the BATNEEC (Best Available Technology Not Entailing Excessive Costs) for each scenario.