The consortium has already tested INCOVER technologies individually at lab scale. The innovation of INCOVER project comes from the combination of all INCOVER technologies, for a bio-production and resource recovery-based wastewater treatment. The description of each technology is as follows:
Nutrient recovery and reuse is one of the core objectives of the INCOVER project. Up to now, wastewater treatment has been aimed at removing nutrients and to avoid leakage of nitrogen and phosphorus to the environment to avoid unwanted consequences such as eutrophication of receiving water bodies. However, the ever-increasing need of nutrients to sustain agriculture and industry rises. In this context wastewaters have been largely overlooked as a nutrient resource due to the origin and the fear of the potential risks that the pathogens pose. Wastewaters contain substantial amounts of nutrients that can offered as a fertilizer provided proper treatment and safe management.
Nutrient recovery from wastewaters can be achieved using materials, which have the capacity to adsorb, store and later release adsorbed nutrients for use in productive activities. The aim of this activity is to develop innovative adsorption media (and/or coated media) that can trap and store nutrients from wastewater, and that can be easily recovered to be re-used in productive activities. The developed media must be economic, sustainable and available for the direct use.
Additionally to the development and test of innovative engineered media, the project aims at recovering and valorising nutrients from other treated water by-products sources, such as stabilized sludge and plant biomass, besides the treated water itself, when reused for crop irrigation.
The treatment installed at Almeria will have two water sources:
1. Effluent from HRAP ( distributed to facilities No 1 to 4)
2. Raw wastewater, which is screened and settled in a three-chamber sedimentation tank
The demonstration facilities 1 to 4 each has a surface area of 50 m2 and are designed to polish the effluent of the HRAP systems, as well as to provide effective natural sanitation and to recover phosphorous (P) using different sorption materials. The P recovered using the innovative materials will be used as a source of nutrients for farming, while the sanitized water will be used for hygienic safe irrigation.
Two of the systems will be planted with the common reed (Phragmites australis), while the other two will be planted with giant cane (Arundo donax). The replicated demonstration system will serve as a reference to demonstrate the P recovery potential of the developed adsorption media.
For the planted facility 5, which will receive raw settled wastewater, half of the area will be planted with common reed while the other half will be planted with giant cane. This system will serve as a demonstration to evaluate the capacity of the system for treating water, removal of pathogens and the recovery of P. Since this system will be treating only settled wastewater, it is expected that the influent will have high nutrient and pathogen load. The results from sampling campaigns will be used to characterize and evaluate the treatment capacity and to establish treatment targets. The results of the testing will be used for the Life Cycle Assessment of the INCOVER project.
Influent and effluent water quality in all the established systems will be monitored along time. In addition, selected plant performance parameters such as biomass production and nutrient uptake will be assessed. The treated water that will go to the irrigation system will be tested for various water quality parameters and for sanitary parameters before its application to the planted plots.