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Constructed wetland to produce high-quality drinking water free from nitrates

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ZIRONITRO (Constructed wetland to produce high-quality drinking water free from nitrates)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2017-08-31

ZIRONITRO is an innovative constructed wetland to biologically treat groundwater contaminated with nitrates to produce high-quality drinking water at 84% lower cost than current solutions. ZIRONITRO’s innovation resides in the nitrate removal specificity that boosts the action of denitrification bacteria, with a design that allows low-cost operation and maintenance. The special environment we have generated inside our ponds reduces hydraulic retention time by 90% (98% removal in 5 hours) with 100-times-less ethanol than alternatives. With this action we aim to extend the applications of our constructed wetlands technology to the drinking water production field and to prepare its commercialisation in Europe.
ZIRONITRO is the result of nine years of bioengineering in which Ofra has built several prototypes and a pilot plant (30 m3/day) in Israel, achieving a Technological Readiness Level of 7. During the Feasibility Study, Ofra has (1) devised the Technical and Operational Plan and a Contingency Plan to upscale the system, (2) devised the Commercial Exploitation Plan by gathering relevant information of the market and regulatory situation in the water services field in the target markets selected for the Ph 1 execution, (3) closed collaborations with potential end-users and (4) performed financial studies. This has helped us define our commercialisation strategy and segment our market: Malta, Cyprus, Spain will be the early adopters of our technology by taking part in the Phase 2 activities (design, construction, optimization, validation, dissemination).
Three out of four people in Europe drink water from groundwater sources, which are subject to severe nitrate contamination by products used in intensive farming. High levels of nitrates have been reported to threaten 26% of EU biodiversity and put human health at risk. Current technologies do not meet the needs of small water suppliers in rural areas, who must face costs derived from high energy consumption (3-7 kWh/m3), poor nitrate selectivity, residual streams and by-products that require post-treatment and continuous maintenance. ZIRONITRO provides them with a cost-effective solution, without synthetic chemicals, negligible energy input and no generation of either residuals or wastewater, while contributing to both biodiversity conservation and landscape aesthetic value.
ZIRONITRO will allow Ofra to deliver a reliable and regulation-compliant solution that can adjust to clients’ treatment objectives (down to 0 mg/l of nitrate) and accommodate variable needs of water demand (modular and scalable). For the period 2020-2023, we forecast €72 million cumulative revenues, increasing workforce to 40 people.