European Commission logo
polski polski
CORDIS - Wyniki badań wspieranych przez UE

Microbial Desalination for Low Energy Drinking Water

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MIDES (Microbial Desalination for Low Energy Drinking Water)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2019-04-01 do 2020-09-30

Shortage of fresh water has become one of the major challenges for societies all over the world. Water desalination offers an opportunity to significantly increase the freshwater supply for drinking, industrial use and irrigation. All current desalination technologies require significant electrical or thermal energy. The most common desalination technology applied it the Reverse Osmosis (RO) which has thermodynamical limitations, which point to 1.09 kwh/m3 for seawater at 50 % recovery.

The aim of the MIDES project (microbial desalination for low energy drinking water) is to develop a unique and innovative system with which to obtain drinking water through advanced, low energy desalination processes.
MIDES will to develop the World’s largest demonstrator of an innovative and low-energy technology for drinking water production, using Microbial Desalination Cell (MDC) technology either as stand-alone or as pre-treatment step for RO.

The project focuses on overcoming the current limitations of MDC technology such as low desalination rate, high manufacturing cost, biofouling and scaling problems on membranes, optimization of the microbial-electrochemical process, system scaling up and economic feasibility of the technology.

The desalination system will receive its energy supply from wastewater treatment, using equally innovative technology: the microbial fuel cell. In this biological reactor, bacteria use the organic matter in wastewater to produce electricity that, in turn, allows for salt migration through selective membranes. As such, advanced materials (nanostructured electrodes, ceramic and ionic exchange membranes) that help to convert current treatment processes into a strategy for energy recovery from wastewater and desalination will be developed.

The results of the project will open the doors to a new market for low cost desalination in low- to medium-capacity decentralised plants, which will simultaneously purify wastewater with a positive energy balance.

The combination of these systems will mark a relevant milestone towards the conception of cities in the future, equipping them with comprehensive wastewater treatment plants that generate electricity and desalinate within intelligent management and control systems.
The work performed during the first 36 months of the project mainly consisted in the development of the Components of the MDC (electrodes and membranes), the process integration and pre-pilot validation together with the Process simulation, automation and control on the technical side, MDC pilot plant design and the construction have been started. On the market side, a great number of dissemination and exploitation activities have been developed.

Regarding the electrode development, different concepts of carbon-based electrodes were evaluated with respect to its electrochemical properties and industrial manufacturability. As a result of the previous task, the requirements of electrodes to be used in MDC reactors were defined. Thanks to these requirements nanostructured electrodes were achieved at lab-scale and benchmarked with commercial materials.

With respect to the membrane development a definition of specifications for IE membranes to be used in MDC Systems where established. After the definition of these initial specifications of IE membranes with advanced properties in a batch process were produced. These membrane were characterized and tested at lab-scale under operative conditions characterization and in-situ cleaning procedures of membrane where developed. Afterwards, IE membranes were produced with an industrially-scalable continuous process.

Using the inputs from the electrode and membrane developments, the MIDES MDC pre-pilot unit has been constructed and is being tested in real conditions.

Finally with regards to the technical actions, the pre-treatment process has been optimized for the process integration and pre-pilot validation and the modeling and simulation of overall Process is been performed.

With the information obtained, pilot plant were designed including the elements developed in the previous months and the operational information obtained at lab and pre-pilot scale, pre and post-treatment were included and the construction was started.

On the market side, the MIDES Business and Exploitation Plan has been developed and updated in month 6 and 12. A Business Plan Development workshop was organized with the help of the Common Exploitation Booster service offered by the EC.

A number of dissemination activities have been developed by all Consortium members, which can be shown at the project website: and social media tools. It is important to highlight the various leaflets, posters and a micro demonstration prototype which has been displayed at the numerous events where the project has been present (Leading edge technology IWA conference; Aquatech; IDA World Desalination Congress; European Desalination Society, Conferences; COP 23-24 UN Climate Change Conference) and a video have been to disseminate the project and are also available through the website.
MIDES Project by developing a water desalination and wastewater treatment combined system will facilitate at really low cost access to safe and pure water for drinking as well as availability of treated wastewater for re-use in irrigation and agricultural applications. MIDES will accelerate and rationalise the use of desalinated water worldwide thus contribute directly to the economic growth of desalination market, especially of the European Union, notably for water-stressed areas.
MIDES Project will help to improve the quality of life by increasing water resources and reducing pollution in areas where less effective WWTs are used at present.

The dissemination activities of the project will promote desalination to increase public acceptance through information and communication campaigns aiming at better social acceptance of purified water through desalination.

With regard to employment opportunities, MIDES has great potential to safeguard jobs that currently exist in water industry, stimulating companies (SMEs/LEs) to further develop and increase production using increased benefits by reducing costs, and expand the number of jobs in SMEs that manufacture membranes, especially for MDCs, and design, install and maintain integrated WWT systems.

MIDES aims to minimize the contaminants in sea water as well as in WW resulting in energy efficient innovative process (e.g. MDC in combination with RO) and both fresh and treated water can have multiple applications for different users e.g. civil, industrial, agricultural, and urban and sub urban etc.