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Successful completion of the REC4AGUA project of circular economy in WWTPs

Recently, the implementation of the PID (Research and Development Project) REC4Agua “Research and Development of a technology based on Membrane Contactors for the RECovery of Resources present in Wastewater” has been completed. The project, started in 2017 and  in which CETIM collaborated with Espina & Delfín, was aimed at research, development and validation of a technology based on hydrophobic membranes liquid-liquid contactors that allows ammonia recovery. This compound, present in the effluent of industrial and urban Wastewater Treatment Plants, has been recovered in a sustainable way for its later valorisation as agricultural fertilizer.

 

For this purpose, a technology based on hydrophobic semi-permeable membranes was researched and optimised, which allows ammonium’s transfer from the waste water through the pores of these membranes until it is dissolved in an acidic receiving solution (H3PO4, H2SO4, etc.), which results in its recovery.

 


Hydrophobic membrane ammonia recovery module.

 

 

Thanks to the development of the project, our partner Espina y Delfín has been able to diversify its catalogue of services and has a technology that allows them to recover ammonium from waste water. This new technology achieves a recovery yield of more than 95% of the ammonium present in the effluent, allowing it to obtain a high-purity by-product that can be used as a high value-added fertilizer.

 

Planta piloto REC4Agua.

REC4Agua pilot plant.

 

Another of the most remarkable results of REC4Agua project has been the design of a fully functional and automated pilot plant, with its corresponding maintenance and cleaning protocol. This pilot plant is capable of continuous and uninterrupted operation, laying the foundations for future implementation of the process on an industrial scale.