Águas Do Tejo Atlântico: overcoming barriers and sludge pre-treatment at ECOVAL

aguas do tejo atlantico ecoval

ECOVAL Sudoe proposes a new approach to the management of organic waste based on its recovery to obtain volatile fatty acids (VFA), secondary raw materials useful for industries such as plastics, lubricants or agrochemicals.

Águas do Tejo Atlântico (AdTA), a member of the ECOVAL consortium, is collaborating in overcoming technical and legal barriers to the valorisation of VFA from sewage sludge and bio-waste. This requires the cooperation of different actors in the SUDOE region (sewage and waste companies, research centres, environmental authorities, legal advisors and sector associations) to change the legal framework that allows the use of products obtained from waste. In order to identify barriers, two participatory workshops were held in which the similarities in the legal and operational management of this type of waste in the 3 countries could be verified.

On the other hand, AdTA has focused on sludge pre-treatment to maximise VFA production. To this end, tests were carried out with pulsed electric field technology using waste sludge from the biological treatment of the Frielas WWTP and thickened mixed sludge from the Beirolas WWTP. The two tests were carried out to check if there is any advantage in the pretreatment of only biological sludge and if the solids content of the sludge affected the effectiveness of the pulsed electric field technology.

Finally, AdTA has participated in the quantification of the sludge produced in Portugal, as well as its quality. This work will support the analysis of environmental and economic sustainability that will be carried out in the project, framed in Working Group 6 of the Project: Replicability and transferability of the business model and its environmental and economic assessment.

CETAQUA and Biogroup participate in the 17th World Conference on Anaerobic Digestion

CETAQUA and Biogroup in the AD17

The 17th World Conference on Anaerobic Digestion (AD17) was held at the University of Michigan (USA) from 17-22 June 2022. This international conference, organised by the Anaerobic Digestion Specialist Group of the International Water Association (IWA) with the support of UMICH and USC, was an event to discuss recent advances in anaerobic digestion and related processes. The theme of this edition was: “Biogas and beyond: Expanding applications of anaerobic biotechnologies in a circular economy“. This theme highlights the evolving field of anaerobic biotechnologies, which play an increasingly important role in a circular (bio)economy.


The programme included pre-conference workshops, plenary and keynote speakers, a panel discussion “from research to entrepreneurship”, more than 100 oral presentations and around 100 poster presentations. All around a wide range of topics around the role of anaerobic digestion in biotechnology. Part of ECOVAL’s research has to do with optimising this process for the production of Volatile Fatty Acids at the Ourense WWTP, so Antón Taboada-Santos, researcher and Project Manager at CETAQUA, gave a talk on the influence of thermal hydrolysis pre-treatment on the production of VFAs from sewage sludge. Also present at the event was the Biogroup USC, partner of ECOVAL, with the presentation of a poster on the impact of salinity on the production of AGVs, as a result of the CONSERVAL Poctep project.


The talk by Antón Taboada, coordinator of the project, was entitled Thermal Hydrolysis Pre-treatment Has No Positive Influence On VFA Production From Sewage Sludge and took place on Monday 20 at 11:00hrs, within the block From Research to Practice: What is the best way to recover energy from sludge?, which runs the same day from 10:30 to 12:15 in the UMMA Auditorium. It was a 10-minute oral presentation with 5 minutes for questions and answers. The results presented come from the research of the team formed by Antón together with Ánder Castro, Sabela Balboa, Vanesa Paramá, Borja Álvarez, Celia Castro and Juan M. Lema.


The poster of the USC Biogroup (within the CRETUS research group) was presented on Tuesday 21 June with the identifier P58: Volatile Fatty Acid Production From Fish-canning Industry Effluents: The Impact Of Salinity. It was the result of research by Juan Iglesias-Riobó, Riccardo Bevilacqua, Miguel Mauricio-Iglesias and Marta Carballa. It was exhibited in the Michingan League Ballroom from 12:15 to 14:00 and from 17:15 to 19:00, together with the rest of the posters of the day.


AD17 was a good opportunity to raise international awareness of some of ECOVAL’s results and thus improve their communication and dissemination, in line with the project’s GT 6. The event was strongly attended by academics, utilities and consulting engineers.

CETAQUA showcases ECOVAL’s advances in sustainable waste management at CORFU

CETAQUA showcases ECOVAL's advances at CORFU

The International Conference on Sustainable Solid Waste Management (also called CORFU 2022) took place on the Greek island of Corfu from 15-18 June. This year, in its ninth edition, it sought to address the important issue of sustainable solid waste management by promoting safe practices and effective technologies. It aimed to stimulate the interest of scientists and citizens and inform them about the latest developments in the field of municipal solid waste management. The exhibitions were located in the Municipal Theatre in the city center, but could also be viewed online, subject to prior registration and booking.


The topics discussed were closely related to the ECOVAL project and its innovations. Therefore, on Thursday 16th at 18:00hrs, Ánder Castro, researcher at CETAQUA, presented the results obtained through experimentation in the pilot WWTP of Ourense. The paper is entitled Thermal hydrolysis pre-treatment has no positive influence on VFA production from sewage sludgeand is the result of the research carried out by Ánder himself together with S. Balboa, V. Paramá, B. Álvarez, C. Castro-Barros, J.M. Lema and A. Taboada-Santos. It is part of session XV of the event, in room 3, dedicated to the waste valorisation.


More specifically, the talk dealt with the effect of sewage sludge pre-treatments (in particular the so-called thermal hydrolysis) on the production of volatile fatty acids. This knowledge is very useful to reinforce the overall objective of the conference: to go a step further in solid waste management, for which it helps a lot to learn how to achieve value-added products by applying biorefinery processes to them.


The conference was a great opportunity to brought together scientists and professionals from government departments, industry, municipalities, universities, private companies and research centres, providing a forum for the exchange of the latest ideas and techniques in the world of waste management.

ECOVAL awarded a prize in Europe for its campaign “A new bin, are you in?”

Ecoval premiado en europa ewwr

The project was distinguished with the European Special Award during the European Week for Waste Reduction Ceremony, to which more than 12,400 actions were submitted

The communication and social awareness campaign “A new bin, are you in?“, launched by the Fundación Empresa Universidad (FEUGA) within the framework of the Ecoval Sudoe project, has been recognised with the European Special Award at the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) ceremony held in Brussels.

The award was given in recognition of the campaign’s impact, its creativity and participatory nature, as well as its good use of social media. More than 12,400 actions participated in the “Circular Communities” edition of the awards promoted annually by ACR+, an international network of cities and regions that share the goal of promoting sustainable resource management and accelerating the transition to a circular economy in their territories and beyond. The “A new bin, are you in?” campaign managed to stand out and place among the 60 actions shortlisted by the jury, remain among the 16 finalists and finally achieve the distinction.


The campaign focused on raising public awareness of the importance of separating waste correctly, with a focus on organic waste, the brown bin and the incorrect use of the toilet as a waste bin.

The award was presented by Chield Berends, representative of the waste unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment. In addition to its focus on organic waste and the new brown bin, the campaign also focused on waste that should not be flushed down the toilet. Proper waste separation and correct toilet use are of vital importance for projects such as Ecoval Sudoe, which focuses on the valorisation of municipal organic waste and sewage sludge into high value-added products such as volatile fatty acids. For the innovation proposed by the project to be really put into operation, proper waste separation has to be achieved first, and this is where the importance of this type of initiative lies.

The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) is the largest waste prevention awareness campaign in Europe. Driven by local and regional public authorities, it brings together all kinds of actors – citizens, schools, businesses, NGOs, associations – who organise awareness-raising activities on waste reduction.


From organic waste to value in the New European Bauhaus Festival 2022

The ECOVAL Sudoe project is organising an official side event for the New European Bauhaus Festival 2022. It will take place on 10 June at 10:00hrs (GMT+1) and is entitled “From waste to resources: New ways to valorise organic waste“. It will provide an insight into ECOVAL Sudoe’s approach to the management of organic waste and urban sludge, as well as other related projects with which to build bridges. It will be held online, subject to registration.


The New European Bauhaus (NEB) expresses the EU’s ambition to create beautiful, sustainable and inclusive places, products and lifestyles. It promotes a new way of life where sustainability goes hand in hand with style, thus accelerating the ecological transition in various sectors of our economy. From 9 to 12 June, the festival will be held in Brussels, but also online, under the motto: Together for a beautiful and sustainable future. It combines beauty with sustainability and inclusion, along the lines of the Bauhaus. The festival has three distinct stages: the fair, live innovation exhibitions, the forum, debates on the key themes of the NEB, and the festival, which includes all kinds of activities and events such as the one organised by ECOVAL.


“From waste to resources: New ways of valorisation of organic waste” will start with a virtual visit to the Ecoval Sudoe pilot plant, where we will be able to see the process of converting organic waste and urban sludge into volatile fatty acids (VFAs). The next half hour will be followed by the section “Drawing value projects“, in which the ECOVAL project will be compared with other interesting projects that aim to tackle the same problem, but through different solutions. These are ValueWaste, which seeks to convert waste into useful bioproducts for the food or fertiliser industry, the HOOP Project, a HUB of circular platforms to promote investment in the recovery of urban biowaste and wastewater, and the ANTICIPA project, a system for monitoring and alerts on municipal waste management.

All this will be done at the same time as an illustrator tries to express graphically, live, the key points of each project and allows the public to visualise the advances that each proposal represents for our cities. A talk on the role of organic waste and sludge in the circular economy will occupy the next half hour. Finally, there will be an open slot for public participation until 12:30hrs, either through the resolution of possible doubts they may have, or through questionnaires and games developed by the projects. See the full programme here.


A healthier planet, without overburdened landfills.

The event will therefore cover the impact of organic waste and its possible solutions, both from a technical perspective, by learning about the technologies proposed by the participating projects, and from a social and legal perspective, by considering the possible barriers to overcome. In aesthetic terms, the correct separation of waste promoted by the event allows for a healthier planet, without overloaded landfills. Turning waste into valuable products allows us to benefit from the value of those products and also to achieve a less polluted, more liveable planet. The Festival provides the opportunity to share these ideas with a wide range of people, communities and organisations, increasing their visibility and impact.