In the field of wastewater treatment, organic compounds can be used either for the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus or for biogas production through biological processes. Thus, reducing the need for organic compounds in nitrogen and phosphorus removal can increase the recovery of energy in wastewater treatment. This can be done both by using innovative processes and by optimising conventional processes operation. The EU-funded CARBALA (Carbon balancing for nutrient control in wastewater treatment) initiative investigated new ways to treat wastewater. The consortium comprised eight research teams made up of bioprocess engineers, modellers, biotechnologists, technology developers and microbiologists. CARBALA studied new processes at the bench and pilot scales. The researchers gradually combined these tests into treatment systems and optimised them to address the characteristics of the wastewater and the environmental conditions. The team addressed the need for biodegradable carbon in wastewater treatment, which is often not sufficiently present in the wastewater itself. They developed an online system to control the biological nitrification process, which they also tested at full scale and tested the autotrophic removal of nitrogen through innovative technologies. Finally, CARBALA designed a reactor that can allow applying fungi in non-sterile conditions to remove contaminants. Project outcomes will benefit the water treatment sector through the development of innovative solutions for dealing with wastewater, while reducing biodegradable carbon requirements. In addition, these new approaches will help Europe compete in the global water treatment technology market.
Wastewater treatment, nutrients, organic compounds, CARBALA, biodegradable carbon