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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:
The hybrid tubular horizontal photobioreactors (for simplicity, PBRs) system was developed as a combination of an open raceway pond and a closed tubular PBR. Considering the advantages of both designs: the closed part will provide a better pH follow up, better protection against culture contamination, better mixing, less evaporative loss and higher biomass productions; the open part will aid mainly to dissipate excessive dissolved oxygen in the liquor concentration. The whole designed is covered by a patent. Initial tests have demonstrated a productivity of > 20 gr/m2d of algal biomass during spring-summer season.
Bio-plastics production has been made through a two-stage anaerobic-photosynthetic system, using anaerobic pretreatment and High Rate Algae Pond (HRAP) systems.
Project partner, IBET, performed PHA production lab tests using 2 PBR (photo-bioreactors) that simulate El Torno (Chiclana) wastewater treatment ponds, with two different mixing systems: jet mixing and paddle wheel. The tests have been conducted with real fermented wastewater from AQUALIA and results indicated a successful enrichment of the reactors with 15-20% PHA accumulating photosynthetic mixed cultures.
Lab scale reactors simulating different strategies and Chiclana ponds operated by IBET
PHA production at demo scale is currently being operated by Aqualia. Two UASB (Upflow anaerobic sludge blanket, 20 m3 each) fed with molasses and pretreated wastewater permit to obtain a fermented effluent. Then, two jet mixed ponds are being fed with the fermented waste and supplemented with fertilizer (N and P source).
After several weeks of operation purple bacteria have finally been selected (see the left pond on the figure below). The process will be optimized in the following months. Right pond is still with microalgae dominance, as the starting up was two weeks later than the other one.
Pond 1 and pond 2 for PHA production at Chiclana during the feeding phase. (AQUALIA)