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Using microalgae bioreactor technology to deliver the world’s most cost-effective, energy-efficient and adaptable system for the treatment of toxic industrial and landfill wastewater

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ALGAMATER (Using microalgae bioreactor technology to deliver the world’s most cost-effective, energy-efficient and adaptable system for the treatment of toxic industrial and landfill wastewater)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-12-31

This project was inspired by the words of the inventor and author Buckminster Fuller: “Nature has no pollution. This is a word coined in human ignorance regarding the presence of the right chemicals being released in the wrong places…”. While high concentrations of compounds such as ammonium, phosphates and sulphates can be deadly for aquatic ecosystems and their inhabitants, they are nutrients for algae and plants. This project harnesses components found in highly concentrated wastewaters such as landfill leachate to feed microalgae.
The landfill leachate is one of the most concentrated and complex wastewaters produced. Its treatment is a major engineering challenge due to the high and variable concentrations of dissolved solids, dissolved and colloidal organics, heavy metals and xenobiotic organics. Ensuring that landfill leachate and industrial wastewaters do not pollute natural water resources is a priority throughout the world.
Bluemater has developed technological solutions for leachate treatment since 2008. The company has created systems for the primary, secondary, and tertiary treatment of wastewaters. The company has turned a challenging concept into a viable commercial system for wastewater treatment at landfills and various other industries. Following extensive testing at diverse wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and guided by feedback from target clients, its breakthrough microalgae technology was integrated with Bluemater’s next-generation wastewater management systems in its current configuration. With this project, Bluemater introduces the ALGAMATER WWTP: the world’s most robust, flexible, cost-effective, and eco-friendly wastewater treatment system.
In order to boost the capacity and effluent treatment efficiency of Bluemater’s innovation to industrial levels it´s necessary to commission a full-scale, integrated and certified ALGAMATER WWTP with an industrial leachate treatment capacity of 150m3/day at a fully operational, large-scale EU landfill. The ALGAMATER WWTP will be scaled-up and installed at the ALGAR’s Sotavento landfill in Algarve, Portugal.
The ALGAMATER WWTP will serve to demonstrate the superior performance, adaptability and cost-effectiveness of Bluemater’s solution, positioning the technology at the forefront of next-generation eco-innovative wastewater treatment systems worldwide. For this objective, a scale-up of the company’s individual technologies will be made so they can be integrated into the scaled-up ALGAMATER WWTP. The plant will have a 150m³/day leachate treatment capacity and will comply with the emission limit values for leachate treatment laid out by Portuguese and EU legislation. The final performance results will validate all advantages and benefits of the ALGAMATER WWTP, opening the doors of high-scale commercialization of this disruptive technology to the European and international markets.
The activities within WP1 were completed during the first reporting period. Within the second reporting period the work performed included:
The P&ID of the ALGAMATER® WWTP has been fully developed and now represents the complete flow diagram of the final plant, including BLUEMATER’s technology components. The Full-Scale Plant Mechanical Design was completed considering the scaled-up components and the installation layout of ALGAMATER. The Equipment Selection was completely carried out for the mechanical components. The needs and requirements for the automation and monitorization are already being developed based on the P&ID, so the Control System can be made in accordance with ALGAMATER’s needs. The electrical architecture is under development and the power architecture is done to attend these needs and guarantee the safe operation of the plant. The final Control System will be presented further on the project.
The ALGAMATER’s components have already started to be purchased, and all other components are going to be purchased in the following period to ensure the manufacturing will finish the components, so it can be delivered to the final installation location. There was the need to redefine the planned location for the photobioreactor at the Sotavento Landfill – the initial location revealed to be inadequate as it was very rugged and required considerable land mobilization. In addition, there were restrictions related to harvesting cork oaks, which is a protected species; and lead to the need of studying an alternative location. The legal authorization for construction is going to be obtained once the civil work project is finished by the Sea Project, following BLUEMATER’s indications and ALGAMATER’s needs.
The first Vulcan Flotator is already installed and is working provisionally as a pre-treatment of the installed reverse osmosis systems. Materials have been purchased (e.g. Biocube Natantia Moulds) and shipped to the construction location, so the mechanical integration and assembly of all units could start.
The Customer Development activities were successfully conducted. The Business Plan started to be developed based on the inputs of the Customer Development activities. The current version is already reflecting developments made within the ALGAMATER project and it is going to be constantly updated until the project’s end. The Communication Activities were successfully conducted up until this point. It was very important to raise awareness towards the ALGAMATER project and to bring BLUEMATER in close contact with new potential customers, partners, and others. The trade-fairs were essential for Customer Development, as well to provide. The Commercialization Plan is starting to have a clear structure based on the Business Plan and the best way to achieve the final clients.
During RP2, the project management was focused on mitigating the circumstances leading to a delay in the civil works, which resulted in the request for an extension to the overall duration of the project that has been approved by the EC. IPR Management has already started to be done with the submission of two patents.
During project implementation, the team found the need for a new design of the Green Dune photobioreactor (formerly named, in previous reports, as Algamater photobioreactor) and for a new plastic injection moulding method, to allow the production of over 100 reactors per day, which are pilled up and can transport up to 390 pieces per 40' container, against the 96 reactors we could carry with the previous configuration. The new two-piece configuration that can be assembled at the destination, thus saving production costs (€650/reactor for the previous version to €450/reactor with the current version). This makes the reactor much more competitive and can be produced in series, which was not the case with the previous reactor, which can only be produced manually.
The ALGAMATER WWTP is about to become the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and adaptable system for the treatment of industrial and landfill wastewaters. It will change the way the market approaches the leachate and industrial wastewater treatment, with a sustainable and much more cost-efficient solution to treat the most polluted wastewater effluents.
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Algamater Diagram