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INCOVER Report Summary

Project ID: 689242
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.5.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INCOVER (Innovative Eco-Technologies for Resource Recovery from Wastewater)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2017-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The solution to the increasing water scarcity lies partially in the search and the implementation of new alternative wastewater technologies with low cost and energy consumption, able to generate reusable water and new products and resources instead of residues. A recent example is the project INCOVER: “Innovative Eco-technologies for Resource Recovery from Wastewater” ( GA: 689242), that aims to resolve the need for new wastewater technologies by promoting water reuse, changing the paradigm of considering wastewater as only a waste and regarding it as a valuable resource, from which new added-value products can be obtained. The project is coordinated by AIMEN Technology Centre (Spain) and is being carried out through the collaboration of 18 partners including companies, universities, research and technological centres from 7 European countries.
The main target of INCOVER is to transform wastewater from a waste stream into a source of new added-value bio-products contributing to a circular flow economy using innovative monitoring methodologies and a Decision Support System (DSS). The main final products of INCOVER solutions will be chemicals, irrigation water and bio-fertiliser. Furthermore, upgraded methane, CO2 and bio-coal will be extracted to reach at least a 50% reduction of the energy and raw material demand. The consortium has already tested INCOVER technologies individually at lab/pilot scale (TRL 4-6). However, the innovation comes from the combination of all INCOVER technologies applied to three different case-studies in order to obtain complementary and/or alternative solutions to conventional WW treatment providing water reuse and added-value products from municipal, agriculture and industrial WW. The proposed 3 INCOVER solutions aim at reducing at least a 50% overall operation and maintenance costs of conventional wastewater treatment through the use of wastewater as a source for energy demand and added-value production to follow UE circular economy strategy. The whole INCOVER concept will improve significantly the economics and environmental sustainability of wastewater treatment.
Three added-value plants treating raw or pre-treated wastewater from Sewage Treatment Plants of municipalities, farms and food and beverage industries will be implemented, assessed and optimised concurrently (Figure 1, 2 and 3). In addition, strategies to facilitate the market uptake of INCOVER innovations will be carried out in order to close the gap between demonstration and end-users. An estimated turnover of 188 million€ for INCOVER lead-users is expected after the initial exploitation strategy of 5 years implementing 27 INCOVER solutions.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The main work performed during the first 18 months of the INCOVER project is the following:
Design and implementation of PHA production processes in Case-study 1: Photobioreactors (PBR).
Design and adjustment of PHA production processes in Case-study 2: storage tanks, UASB reactor, HRAPs.
Design and implementation of organic acid production reactor in Case-study 3.
Selection, design and set up of optical monitoring devices for organic compounds.

Design, adjustment and implementation of Anaerobic co-digestion processes (AcoD) in Case-study 1, 2 and 3.
Design and implementation of sustainable biogas upgrading methodology in Case-study 2.

Selection and production of coating material for P retention improvement through sorption process in Case-study 1 and 2.
Design and implementation of planted filters for nutrient removal in Case study 2.
Design and implementation of solar-driven disinfection systems through ultrafiltration and anodic oxidation in Case-study 1 and 2, respectively.
Design and implementation of smart irrigation system in Case-study 1 and 2.
Design and implementation of sludge treatment wetlands and evaporative system for anaerobic digestate stabilisation in Case-study 1 and 2, respectively.

Developments of Life Cycle Sustainability Assesment (LCSA) of several INCOVER processes of the 3 case-studies.
Initial analysis of the existing standards and the ongoing developments in the fields related with WW management.

Development of INCOVER website and communication and dissemination material.
Selection, organisation and development of INCOVER Advisory Boad and Dialogue workshops.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The main innovations of INCOVER proposal are summarised as follows:
1 - A tailored-to-technology Decision Support System (DSS) and a Sustainability tool will be developed to ensure the socio-economic, environmental and technical feasibility of INCOVER solutions.
2 - Demonstration of innovative added-value technologies at real scale designed for extracting valuable resources from wastewater in three case-studies (municipalities, farms and F&B companies) including:
- An innovative PHA production process from phototrophic bacteria/microalgae systems without the need for aeration, saving operational costs.
- Optical sensing and control for measuring PHA and the chemical/organic compounds of interest in INCOVER bioprocesses.
- An innovative biogas cleaning technology capable of simultaneously removing CO2, H2S, NH3 and VOCs from biogas in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way, in order to provide a bio-methane with enough quality to be injected in natural gas grids or to be used as biofuel in vehicles.
- Functionalised polymeric materials (sol-gel coatings) as innovative sorbents for a 70-80% P and N recovery from WW.
- Solar-driven power anodic oxidation (AO) and ultra-filtration (UF) systems as cost-effective disinfection systems using smart soft sensors in order to provide quality effluent (pathogen free) for irrigation and other uses (i.e. industrial).

Other environmental and social important impacts comprised by INCOVER project are:
- Cost reduction of municipal and industrial WW management by at least 50% via energy supply (bio-methane and bio-coal) and raw material (CO2) produced and recirculated during the process.
- Enhance and foster the awareness among the industrial companies and costumers, citizens of municipalities and farm workers about the benefits of using reused water and bio-products. In this way, INCOVER will foster and enhance the social acceptance (citizens, municipalities, industries,…) of reused water for different purposes by a tailored dissemination activities for every kind of audience with targeted contents.
- Improving skills and knowledge on innovative WW technologies. The INCOVER project will include training activities through Innovation workshops to transfer new knowledge to the personnel of F&B companies, water companies, water utilities, municipalities and farmers regarding installation, implementation and operation of the INCOVER technologies.
- Science in Society. Some dissemination activities for the general public are planned to make INCOVER technology accessible to them.

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