In recent decades, there has been a significant evolution in the processes involved in sewage treatment, which has not only improved substantially the quality of water in Europe, but also the health of people and the environment surrounding us.
Up to this point, the treatment of groundwater has centered on its cleansing, so that it can later be returned to the environment. However, there is an ongoing technological revolution taking place in treatment plants all around the world, to take the practice of purification to the next level.
An ocean of resources
Featuring new techniques and innovations in groundwater waste management, urban water treatment plants have become authentic resource recovery centers wherein clean water, energy, nutrients and all kinds of organic materials can be extracted and capitalized on.
As stated by the European Environment Agency in an extensive report, certain technologies are capable of safely separating waste that, after being treated, allows us to obtain different components and reusable substances, while facilitating the recycling of the remaining water for activities in which quality standards are more indulgent, such as the irrigation of parks and gardens. Thanks to these innovative ideas and concepts, together with the technology scale-up, our plants are expected to increase the amount of different food waste that can be treated and recycled into materials that can be reused.
The astonishing potential that lies in the field of wastewater treatment brings us closer to climate neutrality goals, moving towards circularity and a greater resource efficiency for this industry. And the truth is, despite all the benefits provided by enjoying a better quality of water, processes involved to fulfill this goal are taking their toll on the health of our planet.
Sustainability streams under groundwater
Treatment carried out to reduce water pollution may lead to the emission of greenhouse gases and pollutants that pass into the air, soil and water all over the Earth. Phenomena caused by climate change, such as extreme temperatures, and the increasing number of pollutants that pose a risk to marine biodiversity are other obstacles faced by treatment plants.
As for the legislative framework, economic incentives are needed in support of circular economy and recycling regarding groundwater treatment. For this reason, work is being done to promote the development of a legislative framework that allows recycled resources to break into the market, in the face of the current barriers imposed for materials such as the sludge resulting from treating sewage water.
Pairing up two concepts like groundwater treatment and circular economy demands changes, not only in the regulatory and institutional sense, but also in how inhabitants become aware of everything that concerns the treatment of water and how they can do their bit to take care of it. A first step for everyone is to improve out water-use efficiency, diminishing the amount that needs to be extracted from the environment for its treatment, while mitigating the negative aftermath that this entails for the planet.
This efficiency is indeed, one of LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0 ‘s main objectives. In terms of biogas production, this translates into managing to increase the amount of biogas produced without the need to increase the number of inputs used during its production. In order to do this, we developed an automated co-substrate dosage system that we can exploit to produce biogas, one of the renewable energies that play a key role in the functioning of circular economy.
In outline, the total solution to these problems can only be achieved at local stages. Diverse factors such as financial resources, the layout of the land, population density, the nature of the water and the surrounding industry are determinant when assessing the options available for each scenario. Therefore, in order to apply the innovation that best fits the parameters of each situation, this problem must be tackled with a flexible approach. In this sense, large plants carry out highly efficient treatment systems, but many local facilities placed in decentralized environments can also carry out these duties very effectively, being able to supply entire towns.
Our project is proud to be at the forefront of technology in wastewater treatment and energy production through the co-digestion of this waste. At our facilities we continue to focus our efforts on making biogas a reliable source to be commercialized in the energy market, in alignment with European Green Deal’s renewable energy roadmap and the settlements reached in the Paris Agreement in order to reduce CO2 emissions.