Technological Centre

Three CETIM research projects that will increase water availability

For World Water Day, we show you that the challenges currently facing water resources can be overcome thanks to the development of new technologies that improve the processes for obtaining and treating water.

LIFE GREEN SEWER, NICE and RESURGENCE are examples of how reused water can be obtained, reducing environmental impact and economic costs.


World Water Day has been celebrated since 1993 to remind us of the importance of caring for this resource that is so essential for life on our planet. Water faces several challenges, such as pollution and overexploitation. In addition, climate change and increasing water stress in many parts of the world make it an essential but scarce resource. To tackle this problem, at CETIM we are leading more than ten national and European research projects to increase the availability of water resources.

This is the case of the projects LIFE GREEN SEWER, which has just come to an end last month and has focused on the recovery of urban wastewater, NICE, where we are developing different Nature-Based Solutions to, among other aspects, collect and treat rainwater, and RESURGENGE, which we have just started its research to recover industrial wastewater. Let’s take a look at each of them.


CETIM has led the LIFE GREEN SEWER project since the beginning of its research in 2019. The main objective has been the implementation of a new secondary treatment system for urban wastewater, through the integration of new technologies that allow obtaining biogas, nutrients and water for reuse.

Following the installation of an industrial pilot, firstly at the Cabo Prioriño wastewater treatment plant in Ferrol, and secondly at the Almendralejo water treatment plant in Extremadura, the results obtained not only meet the objectives, but exceed the initial estimates. In both locations, we obtained high quality treated water suitable for agricultural irrigation, in accordance with European regulations on the reuse of treated water.

In other words, the water obtained can be reused in food crops that are consumed raw when the edible part is above ground level and is not in direct contact with the reclaimed water, as well as in processed food crops and non-food crops. Not only that, but in the project we have also managed to extract nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium from the water, and biogas has been generated.

Pilot designed, built and validated at LIFE GREEN SEWER.

H2020 NICE

Another of the research projects we are working on at CETIM to increase water availability is the H2020 NICE project, in which we are developing technologies based on the principles of nature itself. More specifically, we are carrying out the elimination of emerging pollutants present in water, such as pharmaceuticals and herbicides.

To this end, we are investigating, on the one hand, biochar and coconut fibre as materials capable of eliminating these pollutants by more than 90%. On the other hand, we are also analysing at CETIM the capacity of certain microorganisms present in real wetlands to degrade these emerging pollutants in water.

The solutions developed at NICE will make it possible to reuse greywater from households to recharge cisterns, for irrigation or flushing, after on-site treatment of this water, as well as rainwater, derived from various meteorological effects such as rain, snow or ice. Nature-Based Solutions could even be incorporated into the water treatment process, as a new process between the treatment plant and the drinking water treatment plant, to obtain water suitable for human consumption, thus increasing the availability of the water resource.

The first results obtained to date show that the technologies developed in the project could recover more than 250,000 litres  per day of rainwater, greywater, domestic sewage and river water. Taking into account that the average water consumption per inhabitant per day is 133 litres, according to 2020 data collected in the ‘Statistics on Water Supply and Sanitation’ report produced by the National Institute of Statistics, NICE will improve water availability, alleviating the water stress suffered by some areas.

Construction of a pilot plant for NICE at the Talavera de la Reina WWTP (Toledo).


In line with previous projects, RESURGENCE started research earlier this year to develop novel technologies for industrial water treatment. Similarly, we will also recover energy and high-value raw materials.

New to RESURGENCE, we will develop digital tools, physical sensors and software for data acquisition and management of energy, water and potential risks that may arise in the process.

The four-year project is funded by Horizon Europe and coordinated by CETIM. With a consortium of 20 partners from 11 countries, RESURGENCE aims to create the basis for future circularity centres, working to achieve a significant and lasting impact.

Industrial water circularity: Reuse, resource recovery and energy efficiency for greener digitised EU processes.

We would like to highlight the importance of continuing research into new technologies for water reuse, something we have been doing at our Technology Centre since we were founded in 2013. “Research in water treatment is essential to reduce the environmental impact and costs of the water treatment process”, says Cristina Martínez, ECO BIO Technologies Area Manager at CETIM.