The waste water treatment processes used historically in wine producing companies and distilleries are inefficient and result in the production of a great deal of pollution. Typical was the situation of AGRALCO, S.COOP. (Estella, Spain) which is a distillery that, as a consequence of its activity, generates highly polluted waste waters. Two of the partners, Chalvignac and IFTS (both French) were identified as technology suppliers - the other partners, Agralco, San Valero and San Salvador were referred to as technology receivers. The main beneficiary was to have been the distillery company Agralco, the other two, San Valero and San Salvador are wine producers and their involvement was to gain know-how and help diffuse the process into the wine sector.
EU benefits are evident in three ways:
- Environmental gains from:
- 99% decrease in organic load in waste water allowing direct discharge to the river of the waste waters
- production of neutral sludges suitable for agricultural use avoiding the pollution of rivers and water sources
- the use of waste materials as energy sources saving natural resources with the corresponding environmental benefits.
- Economic benefits from applications outside the EU - the expectation was that the costs of waste water purification would be low and there would be an economic benefit to users who would not then incur any waste fee.
- Social benefits in terms of quality of life improvements - benefits to local communities from cleaner rivers and streams and less noise, smells and smoke.
In addition to its application in distilleries, there is the prospect of the extension of the technology into wine making. Wine makers were included in the original consortium with this in mind and there are references to the possibility of wine producers sharing a treatment plant.
Specific objectives were to:
- install a treatment system that allowed direct discharge of waste waters to public water flows, with permissible organic load levels by the Spanish and European Union regulations.
- obtain energy to be used in production processes, from the waste
- obtain neutral sludges suitable for use in agriculture
- avoid noise, smells, dust and smoke in the installations area
- automate the process
- implant the innovative technology with low investment and exploitation costs, as compared to the traditional systems for waste water discharge
- disseminate the innovative technology among the European wine producing companies and distilleries.
The purification system used is a combination of receiving basins and an anaerobic digester tank (2000cub.m) for aerobic treatment, and final filtration.
This has been a successful project with effective transfer of technology from France to Spain, with a degree of north-south dimension to it. In addition, significant application of the technology is to companies outside the original consortium has occurred.