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iMETland: A new generation of Microbial Electrochemical Wetland for effective decentralized wastewater treatment

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - iMETland (iMETland: A new generation of Microbial Electrochemical Wetland for effective decentralized wastewater treatment)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2017-03-01 do 2018-12-31

What is the problem/issue being addressed?
Conventional wastewater treatments require high energy, operation and maintenance costs. In addition, due to population growth and urban expansion, the volume of sewage sludge produced by wastewater treatment is constantly increasing. Thus, a different water-energy nexus is required to cope with the future global water demand.

Why is it important for society?
The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Directive 2000/60/CEE) establish that waters must achieve good ecological and chemical status, to protect human health, water supply, natural ecosystems and biodiversity. In the large cities it is easy to get enough efficiency with low cost per capita, but when treating wastewater in small communities, the solutions used in larger cities are not applicable. Many small communities face significant barriers to building and maintaining effective wastewater treatment services. So millions of european citizens living in small communities require a new paradigm for making decentralized treatments affordable and efficient in order to protect natural ecosystems.

What are the overall objectives?
iMETland project aims to construct and validate a full-scale application of a low-cost, eco-friendly technology to treat and disinfect urban wastewater from small communities by means of electricity producing microorganisms. Our concept has already passed the pilot plan period and it was origined from the integration of Microbial Electrochemical Technologies (MET) with natural wastewater treatments inspired on the biofilters used in constructed wetlands. The inclusion of information & communication technologies (ICT) will confer the i component to allow a friendly unique interactive communication among depuration process and the end-user´s smartphone.
A fruitful in-door design stage finally led to a out-door labor phase where the first METland units are being constructed and operated by the consortium . Our team of experts did not rest till they suggested a number of improvements beyond the original concept to enhance also the removal of nutrients.
In this challenge for treating the wastewater in the most sustainable way, a 20m2 full scale METland unit with capacity for converting 6000L/day of the wastewater generated by 50 hab in a fresh and crystalline stream of odor-less water has been operating for almost a year at the Spanish location (Carrion de los Cespedes, Sevilla). Additional units for treating 100 hab are already constructed in Spain and Argentina, and two more in Denmark and Mexico are being constructed right now. Furthermore, a planting campaign will convert this efficient waste treatment systems in beautiful gardening areas.
This is a great starting point considering that METlands outperform classical standard systems without investing energy neither producing sludge as a residue.
Anyway, iMETland is not just a cleaning-up tool but a new concept of “i-based” communication. So our ICT crew already setup the environmental hardware that will keep us posted about both the chemical health of the water and the activity of electroactive bugs.
Thanks to our efforts in communicating and disseminating our research, a number of potential clients have already shown their interest in implementing iMETlands at different locations.
Constructed wetland are smart solutions for treating wastewater at small communities. However, in spite of the low energy requirements for such extensive treatments they need a substantial surface demand (ca. 3m2/hab). In contrast, the iMETland technology outperforms classical wetlands reducing the surface demand by ca. 10-fold (0.4m2/hab in our 50hab iMETland unit). On top of that iMETland constitutes the first worldwide example of a microbial electrochemical technology developed at full scale.
iMETLAND planted unit for treating wastewater generated by 50 hab
iMETLAND unit for treating wastewater generated by 50 hab