Innovation: From Urban Wastewater Treatment Plant To Self Sustainable Integrated Platform For Wastewater Refinement

Last update: 29.08.2013
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urban area‚ industrial waste water‚ wastewater, urban wastewater treatment plant, treatment, plant uwwtp, platform, integrated, self sustainable, isrim,
The treatment of wastewater is a key element of environment conservation activities in Europe and, therefore, an important item on the European policy agenda.

Several directives deal directly or indirectly with this issue. Directive 2000/60/EC establishes a new legislative approach that sets very ambitious objectives for the quality and protection of water, including the achievement of good environmental status by 2015.Council Directive 91/271/EEC on urban wastewater treatment aims to protect the environment from the adverse effects of urban wastewater discharges. The directive also asserts that treated wastewater is reused “whenever appropriate”.

The treatment of industrial wastewater, including effluent from the agro-industrial sector, presents a particular problem, however, because of high toxicity levels, which can compromise the functioning of common urban wastewater treatment plants.In spite of the existence of this legislative context, most European countries still do not adequately treat and manage urban and industrial wastewater, and many are far from achieving the quality targets that have been established.


1) The integration of innovative wastewater treatment and reuse technologies (Electro-chemical technology, CHP and Microalgae photo-bioreactor technology) into the UWWTP.
2) A fully functional WW-SIP prototype.
3) The demonstration of the environmental and economic sustainability of the WW-SIP.
4) Dissemination of project results at national and international level.
The proposed WW-SIP prototype will be built at the pilot scale by integrating the selected technological units with the existing structures of the “Ponte Valleceppi” wastewater treatment plant, managed by UMBRA ACQUE (see the maps enclosed). The prototype will be sub dimensioned with respect to the real capacity of the “Ponte Valleceppi” treatment plant. At the end of the project, the integration of each technology into the whole industrial process will be evaluated. All the outcomes of the different WW-SIP technological units will be considered and scaled up theoretically in order to assess the feasibility of the prototype industrial development. The WW-SIP performance, sustainability and feasibility will be demonstrated by an ex post evaluation of technical, economic and environmental data.

As shown in the flowchart figure, the WW-SIP will address the whole chain of the wastewater cycle from the raw material (urban and industrial wastewater) to the finished products (energy, compost, and water for reuse). The industrial wastewater will be carried to the surrounding area via truck and pre-treated into the WW-SIP using the electro-coagulation process. Taking into consideration the high quality of components coagulated during the process, the final sludge will be studied for composting purpose. Since the pre-treatment allows removal of molecules toxic to active sludge (i.e. polyphenols from olive mill wastewater), the effluent becomes suitable for being added to the domestic sewage and submitted to the classical WWTP treatment, with the advantage of a significantly improved organic carbon load. The sludge obtained after primary and secondary treatment, will be digested into the already constructed anaerobic reactor for biogas production, whereas the effluent, after flowing into the microalgae photobioreactor, will be utilized for algal biomass production and cleaned by residual contaminants. The biogas from the anaerobic reactor will be conveyed to the CHP station for energy production. The carbon dioxide produced by the CHP station will then be fixed by the microalgal photobioreactor. The algal biomass from the photobioreactor will be redirected to the anaerobic reactor or used to generate algal fuel.

The final product of the whole process is reusable water. Any process residue and effluent will be re-circulated within the treatment chain. The whole water content will be reclaimed, avoiding environmentally pollution and loss of valuable resources due to the uncontrolled spread of wastewater on soil and water bodies.

Most of the technologies considered into the proposal have already been tested at the pilot scale. In order to evaluate the technological units performance and their integration into the WW-SIP a life cycle assessment (LCA) will be carried out.
The aim of the WW-SIP project is to redefine the urban wastewater treatment plant (UWWTP) by transforming it into an integrated platform for sustainable and profitable sewage refinement. The project will create an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable wastewater refinement platform (WW-SIP) by integrating innovative technologies into the infrastructures and processes of a typical UWWTP.

This goal will be pursued through the following objectives:

- To improve the technical performance and sustainability of the technologies identified as suitable for integration into the UWWTP, with the aim of developing a prototype of a self-sustainable platform for wastewater refinement.

The prototype will be made up of the following units:

• An electro-chemical pre-treatment of agro-industrial wastewater in order to remove toxic substances and make the effluent suitable for biological treatment, in accordance with Directive 91/271/EEC, and the extraction of bio-based products such as high-quality sludge for compost;

• A combined heat and power (CHP) unit for biogas conversion, comprising a biodesulpurisation process in order to remove hydrogen sulphide from biogas before its combustion in the engine;

• A micro algae photo bioreactor, using carbon dioxide from the engine combustion for algal biomass production, suitable as a substrate for the biogas plant or as a renewable source for biofuel production;

- To assess the environmental and economic sustainability of the entire value chain and inputs/outputs of the integrated process, through a Lifecycle Assessment and a cost-benefit analysis;

- To exchange knowledge and skills among the participants;

- To disseminate results to the water and wastewater sector, scientific community, public, producers and potential end-users.
Chp Unit Construction - Action 5 - Cyclus Id Is The Beneficiary Responsible For This Task. detail Of The Biodesulfuriziation Unit
  • Biodesulfurizationunitconstruction.jpg
  • Electrocoagulationcontainer.jpg
  • TheWWSIPplatform.jpg
  • Photobioreactortesting.jpg
  • PhotobioreactorConstruction.jpg
  • Electrocoagulationunitconstruction2.jpg
  • FlowchartWWSIPplatform.jpg
  • Electrocoagulationunitconstruction.jpg
  • DetailWWSIPplatform.jpg

This innovation is the result of the project

Title: From Urban Wastewater Treatment Plant To Self Sustainable Integrated Platform For Wastewater Refinement


01.01.2012 to 31.12.2015

on-going project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

Please click on an entry to view all contact details.



Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: SANTORI Francesca


Phone: +39 340 9223659



Field: Water collection, treatment and supply (Portugal)

Role in project: Associated partner

Contact person: Dr. MAGUETA Fernando


Phone: +351-233 401 450



Field: Other service activities, Engineering (Spain)

Role in project: Associated partner

Contact person: Dr. OLMO Francisca P.


Phone: +34-955 854 715



Field: Private and public administration, Scientific research and development, Engineering (Portugal)

Role in project: Associated partner

Contact person: Dr. GOUVEIA Luisa




Field: Water collection, treatment and supply (Italy)

Role in project: Associated partner

Contact person: Dr. MALUCELLI Antonello