New system of wastewater treatment could reduce the size of treatment plants by half
- UGR researchers have developed new technologies to obtain cheaper water of higher quality that would also reduce unwanted mud production
- Research is particularly interesting if the current drought is taken into account, as well as the lack of space many municipalities have when the number of inhabitants grows, which makes it impossible to enlarge their water treatment plants
- Results of this research were recently published in several prestigious scientific journals: ‘Journal of Environmental. Science Health, Part A’ and ‘Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology’
C@MPUS DIGITAL A group of researchers from the University of Granada (Universidad de Granada) have come up with a wastewater treatment system which has three clear advantages with respect to systems currently used: it is possible to obtain cheaper water of a higher quality, it considerably reduces the size of treatment plants (by more than half) and it minimizes the resulting mud production.
José Manuel Poyatos Capilla, researcher from the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Granada, is the main responsible for this work, which has been directed by professor Ernesto Hontoria García, director of the Superior Technical Engineering School of Roads, Channels and Ports of the UGR. Research of Mr Poyatos is particularly interesting if the current global drought is taken into account, as well as the lack of space many municipalities have when the number of inhabitants grows, which makes it impossible to enlarge their water treatment plants.
Mr Poyatos has used a new technology based on membrane bioreactor systems which makes it possible to shorten the water clarification process (by which active mud is separated), eliminating the stage known as “secondary decanting.” The structure of every plant currently has four stages: pre-treatment, primary decanting, biological reactor and secondary decanting. A tertiary treatment can also be added whenever water is used for irrigating.
An advantageous system Research carried out at the UGR could reduce the size of the biological reactor between 40 and 60%, and would completely eliminate secondary decanting. “In the future – explains the researcher –- we could even suppress the primary decanting stage.” In exchange, scientists from Granada have included a “biological processes” section in their wastewater treatment plant, which could make it possible to separate water from active mud by a membrane filtration process.
This researched and optimized system makes it possible to treat a larger flow of water in a smaller purifier, “and its building would involve a less expensive construction.” Installation is therefore much cheaper than installation of plants with tertiary treatment, and it also makes it possible to use the water immediately after it has been biologically treated.
The work of José Manuel Poyatos, which has been partly carried out at the University of Cranfield (England), is the first with these characteristics carried out in Spain. Results of his research have been published in prestigious journals such as ‘Journal of Environmental’ and ‘Microbiology&Biotecnology’, and they were also presented at the Ibero-american Congress on Membrane Science and Technology. They will be soon presented at two international congresses of the IWA (International Water Association).
Reference: Dr. José Manuel Poyatos Capilla. Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Granada. Phone numbers: 958 246 155 – 244149. Mobile phone: 657 289 969. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org