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Waste water recycling in textile finishing through the application and further development of membrane bio-reactors used in space life support systems


To develop a novel concept of compact, high efficiency and cost-effective waste treatment plant for water recycling in textile finishing. Idea builds on the application and further development of the know-how, developed by the European Space Agency, on membrane-bioreactors (MBRs) for 100% water recycling in micro-ecological space life support systems. The industrial and economic objective is to obtain a system:
- able to treat water flux with peaks up to 1500 m^3/day (multiple modules in parallel) allowing for at least 90% water recycle, reducing by 30% the sludge produced by the micro-organisms cellular activities, and recovering warm water with a minimum temperature gradient of 20°C
- able to reduce by 70% maintenance and running costs, enabling water saving/water treatment cost saving/energy saving/sludge recovery cost saving estimated in 302 M€ within the textile finishing sector;
- having an installation cost below 150 k€, corresponding to a 60% cost reduction with respect to state of the art recycling plants, and recoverable by the SMEs in a two-year period;
- opening a new market for MBR technology in textile waste water recycling, worth of 165 M€/year in the medium term in Europe.

Thematic Priorities: GROW KA 1.3/Innovative products, processes and organization/point C "minimize resource consumption"; EESD
Key Action 1.4/Sustainable Management and Quality of Water ;QOL KA4.2/Environment and Health.

Work description
Main innovations:
- the design of a versatile textile wastewater treatment train for water reuse under highly variable conditions, inspired by a space concept
- the interaction between biology and membrane filtration in MBR technology
- the post-treatment of MBR effluent to achieve the desired water quality for reuse.

Developing a water purification and recycling plant makes it possible to purify water from textile finishing directly from the source of pollution. The plant will be an innovative combination of a novel membrane based system and a microbial treatment, at a small footprint and at low cost. Combined with a cost-effective post-treatment technology, a reliable system for textile wastewater recycling will be obtained.

Research approach:
- define the membrane module, reactor set-up and configuration in order to develop a system with maximal degradation efficiency and minimal problems of membrane fouling or flux deterioration
- determine the key parameters for membrane and biological performance in order to assess the limitations of the system
- examine the effect of variable influent composition and flow rates in order to determine the robustness of the process and the continuity of efficient quality
- examine the interaction between microbiology and membrane filtration in order to gain insight in the fundamentals of membrane fouling
- examine the impact of salt or trace element accumulation in water recycling through the system in order to determine the maximum achievable level of recycling
- design a post-treatment option for dye removal based on chemical reduction
- assess which parameters are sensitive to scaling-up, through pilot-scale trials based on results from laboratory testing
- develop a design tool implementing the research outcome.

Validation of the system will be made at the premises of textile SMEs of the Core Group and extended training sessions are planned between textile operators and RTDs. To this scope a design tool will be developed in order to allow the application of the proposal number IPS-2001-80003 SPACE2TEX system for different textile finishing plant layout and processing parameters. The tool will support in developing the most appropriate specifications for the modular treatment plant according to the requirements of the textile finishing SME. The design tool will also allow each textile finishing SME to perform a quick check of their approach towards waste water , demonstrating the effectiveness of SPACE2TEX both in terms of performance and affordability/convenience. Take-up will then be generated through pilot scale plant. A representative Core Group of SMEs has been established counting 26 SMEs from Italy, France, Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany, United Kingdom and covering the textile finishing filiere (dyeing, printing, nobloshing) with complimentary process characteristics.

Results expected
Milestone 1 - Month 9 \: Set of specifications
Milestone 2 - Month 18: Laboratory Scale MBR Prototype and Reduced Performance Design Tool
Milestone 3 - Month 21: Pilot Plant Prototype and Design Tool
Milestone 4 - Month 32: Validation of Pilot Plant Prototype and of Design Tool
Milestone 5 - Month 36: Completion of training sessions, workshops and WPs
Results: prototype of the pilot plant validated at the Core Group SMEs premises; Design Tool for the textile SMEs, enlarging their knowledge base and facilitating plant implementation. Guidelines and Best Practices for flexibility/standardization of the system. Guidelines for the exploitation secured in the Exploitation Agreement.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


24 Rue Montoyer
1000 Brussels