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Radically innovative bacterial treatment for recalcitrant industrial wastewater

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RIBATI (Radically innovative bacterial treatment for recalcitrant industrial wastewater)

Berichtszeitraum: 2021-05-01 bis 2022-04-30

The manufacturing industry, together with the energy production industry, accounts for over 70% of total water use in most EU countries. Manufacturing industries discharge large loads of contaminants or toxic emissions, including heavy metals, phosphates, ammonium, chlorinated cyclic compounds, suspended solids and organic matter (fats). These pollutants produce severe degradation in the surrounding plants, crops, insects and other aquatic and terrestrial animals as well as in the ground waters. The inadequate treatment of wastewater is a large source of environmental pollution: eutrophication increases due to the release of phosphorus and nitrogenated compounds, aquatic organisms die due to the presence of heavy metals in water, the breakdown of fats results in strong fumes, etc.

The EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) compels companies to reduce harmful industrial wastewater emissions, and these rules are expected to be tightened in the coming years. Additionally, the “polluter pays” principle forces companies to upgrade their facilities and to pay for any damage done to the environment. These facts are putting the industry at serious risk because of the high costs and the non-compliance with regulations, which involves heavy sanctions.

In light of this, some industries invested in their own wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Unfortunately, most technologies are optimised for large volumes of water (average: 2.500 m3/day) and are too expensive (>€1 million), making it affordable only to big companies. Since each wastewater has different composition, each of them requires specific treatment in order to remove toxic wastes, including carbo-activation, ozonisation, among many others. These processes are very costly: up to €121/m3 and have poor purification results (only 50-65% reduction of hazardous components), and efficiency reduced to as little as 20% in some industries. As a consequence, some industries have to externalize additional WWT services before discharging their streams into the environment and increase total treatment costs. Without new, affordable, more efficient and sustainable methods leading to a complete water treatment and reuse, factories lose competitiveness and may be forced to close or to move to less sensitive countries from other continents, increasing European unemployment and labour impoverishment, and contributing to aggravate environmental threats. Amapex has developed RIBATI, an integral industrial wastewater treatment service. Under the project we expect to manufacture 5 pre-series of the SDU and demonstration of the system in 5 key sectors (chemical, textile, alimentation, hydrocarbons and biogas) and 10 companies. Our objective is to treat around 500.000 m3 of wastewater per year; to generate around €12,3M revenues, an EBITDA of €8,3M, an IRR of 80% and an NPV of €7M (discount rate of 15%). We also expect to create 15 new jobs.
We prepared and wrote all the pre-series specifications and tests plan according to the results obtained in the Feasibility Study. It included implementing automation system, machine connectivity and functionality testing.
- New Active Product dosage system has been developed.
- An additional pump was required in order to free the collapse of two tanks working simultaneously.
- The incoming water scheme was simplified, so it will come into the SDU via two different points instead of the 4 points thought before.
- The water level sensors are disposed in a different way in order to avoid accumulation of waste on them.
- To make the SDU more efficient a thermal isolation has been applied around the tanks.
- An air pump was added in order to avoid lack of O2 whenever it is needed.
- Valves were relocated to be space efficient and easier to operate.
- Tanks are the same capability in liters, but shorter, this way is easier to operate and maintain.
- The hopper containing the Active Product implemented a system to avoid black zones where the product might remain.
- The heating system were optimized thanks to the thermal isolation.

Once the prototype described before was operating manually according to our needs, it became the time to develop the automation. Within the first year of the project we achieve the automation of the system.
A first version of the software controlling all the components was developed. In order to operate automatically, every action can be started after the previous action if and only if it has been executed correctly.
In addition, SDU connectivity is ensured so technicians can easily identify problems and faults with machines. Connection is done by standard IoT (Internet of Things) platform and protocols required to perform the design and integration of the communication modules, development of the software for technical service APP, telemetry and chain management programs.
At the same time the manufacture of the devices started, Amapex started to manufacture the quantity of Active Product required for R+D and piloting.
Once the SDU was approved and perfect functioning was time to get it ready for CE marking in order to make it certified as a save and marketable product within Europe.

As WP1 and WP2 were developed and finished on time, WP3 was started one month before than expected, which help us to be on time by the end of the project as affected by sanitation crisis.
To conduct pilots was necessary to contact new companies interested, as some were closed during a period and others for good, so managerial tasks were required. We started pilots which were successful.
RIBATI will cause three major environmental and industry-related impacts:
1.Contributing to ridding our rivers and seas from pollutants.
2.Saving water resources by enabling the reuse in certain industries of the water treated with RIBATI.
3.Strengthening Europe’s industrial capacities by reducing SME's costs.

The eco-innovative, extremely cost-effective approach of RIBATI can dramatically increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the European industry, fostering the EU’s green economy. RIBATI will reduce environmental pollution through the substantial removal of hazardous compounds in industrial wastewaters released to the environment. A usual practice in some companies is to release the wastewater to the environment even if its contaminants’ concentration surpasses legal requirements, opting to pay fines rather than treating it due to the higher costs of WWT. RIBATI will contribute to stop this practice by reducing costs up to 59%, depending on the industry. It will also reduce water consumption by enabling the reuse of wastewater to re-feed industrial processes.
Setting of on the real-life test during our Pilots
1ST PRE-SERIES UNIT MANUFACTURED
SDU DESIGN
Manufactured SDU being transported to start Pilots