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.

Ecoval Sudoe, a sustainable approach to urban sludge and urban biowaste management

On 8 June, the event “Ecoval Sudoe, a sustainable approach to urban sludge and urban biowaste management“, organised by Porto Ambiente, will bring together the main actors involved in ECOVAL to define a clear and detailed picture of the project. The venue will be the headquarters of Porto Ambiente in Porto.

The Portuguese organising company is responsible for the urban waste management and cleaning services of the Porto city council. In recent years, it has made an effort to improve organic waste collection through innovation by participating in international R&D&I projects. In ECOVAL, they are dedicated to the identification of legal barriers to the recovery of sludge and urban bio-waste and to the proposal of legislative changes for the implementation of the ECOVAL model and its arrival on the market.

 

The programme of the event, which runs from 09:30h to 17:00h, will start with a welcome by Filipe Araújo, the Vice-Mayor of Porto, and an introduction to the project by the coordinator Antón Taboada, from Cetaqua. This will be followed throughout the morning by a series of presentations from each of the partners with a coffee break. After lunch, the invited consortium will visit the LIPOR Compost Plant and the Águas do Porto Wastewater Treatment Plant, learning about their operation first hand. You can consult the full programme here.

Attendance is limited to consortium members and those invited by Porto Ambiente. It will be the first time that the entire ECOVAL project consortium will meet in person, and they will take the opportunity to hold an organisational meeting the day after the event.

The campaign “A new bin, are you in?” travels to the CRA of Vilaboa

La campaña “Otro contendor, ¡qué marrón!” viaja de la mano de FEUGA hasta el CRA de Vilaboa

After the good reception of the activity in Colexio Mendiño, the ECOVAL campaign “A new bin, are you in?” is approached by the hand of FEUGA to the CRA of Vilaboa, a multilingual infant school, with children between 3 and 6 years old.

Following the values of the European Week for Waste Reduction, in which the campaign was born, and as part of the celebration of the World Recycling Day (17th May), the activity focused on transmitting to the youngest the importance of separating waste in the correct way in order to achieve a more sustainable world.

The implementation of the brown bin is not yet widespread throughout Europe, but in Vilaboa they have been separating organic waste for many years. The Green Point managed by the council is becoming a benchmark at provincial level, being able to manage up to 750 tonnes of organic waste per year, mainly from pruning and gardening.

Ecoval was in charge of reinforcing this positive attitude towards recycling in the classroom, explaining the processes involved in this type of circular economy and how each individual can collaborate at home to achieve a much greater collective benefit.

 

The activities to be carried out with the students were eminently practical, favouring more effective learning. A short introductory talk accompanied by animated videos provided the appropriate context to move on to action. As a practical exercise, each child received a piece of waste to be analysed and deposited in the corresponding container. Once all the waste had been sorted, the children were asked to check whether they had really sorted it correctly, correcting it together and discussing what they had learnt.

Taking advantage of the occasion, the importance of avoiding food waste and not using the toilet as a waste bin was also introduced, as many environmental problems are caused by flushing items such as wet wipes, cotton buds or plasters down the toilet, among others.

Activities such as this, which provide information about recycling and waste reduction in the classroom, are a key element in creating conscientious adults and bringing us closer to the sustainable world we all want to achieve.

 

Ecoval visits Colexio Mendiño

Ecoval llevará su campaña al Colexio Mendiño

On Wednesday 18 May, the European project ECOVAL SUDOE presented its model of management and recovery of sewage sludge and organic waste to the students of the Mendiño school in Vigo.

Continuing with the values of the European Week for Waste Reduction, Ecoval Sudoe takes its campaign “Another bin, than brown” to Colexio Mendiño, a vocational training centre in the city of Oviedo.

The centre trains young people aged between 15 and 25 in administrative management, commerce and auxiliary nursing care. Although they are three very different branches, the Mendiño School strives to instil transversal values such as the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and separating waste correctly for recycling.

The Fundación Empresa-Universidad Gallega (FEUGA), communication leader in the project, organised a day in which the students reinforced their knowledge about how to separate waste, with special interest in the new brown bin, the one for organic waste. This container will be a reality in all European cities in 2024 and is already starting to be implemented in the city of Vigo. There are currently only 70 units of these containers, but the procedure has already begun to install 1950 more units.

The event took place on 18 May, with morning and afternoon sessions, taking advantage of the proximity of International Recycling Day, which is celebrated every year on 17 May. The students were able to learn how much organic and inorganic waste we generate annually, the current problem they pose and the solutions proposed by the project, based on their separation and recovery as Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA), a product in great demand by various industries and which is currently obtained mainly from oil.

The talk included theoretical explanations of the project framework, a small question and answer competition and a space to discuss the topics of most interest to the students, as well as any doubts they might have. In this way, the knowledge generated by the project was brought closer to the citizens in a pleasant and easy to understand way, placing science at the service of the population and favouring awareness and sensitisation on sustainability issues.

This activity follows the line of the presence of the project in schools, which began with the implementation of containers in schools in Ourense and will continue with another similar visit next week to the school of Vilaboa.

Palencia’s businessmen discuss the waste management model promoted by ECOVAL

As part of the ECOVAL awareness campaign in the city of Palencia, promoted by the Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, which since March has included posters on buses and bus shelters and training in schools, the Palencia Business Day took place on 16 May. The event brought together between 16:30 and 18:30 companies such as Aquona or Una mosca en mi sopa s.l. and institutions such as the City Council of Palencia. It was supported by the Palencia City Council, Aquona, the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Hotel and Catering Businesses of Palencia. The venue was the Business Incubator of the Chamber of Commerce of Palencia in Santander Avenue nº44.

The programme of the conference included different talks and you can consult it in full here. After the welcome by Laura Díez (Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León) and Ricardo Terrades (Una mosca en mi sopa s.l.), the presentation of Aquona and the circular economy in Water Management began, accompanied by tips for good water management applied to the hospitality industry, by Laura de Vega Franco, Director of Sustainable Development of Aquona. This was followed by a coffee break and a session by Gabriel Rubí, head of the Environment Service, who came as a representative of the City Council, to talk about organic matter management, the fifth container (are you in?) and the plans and forecasts for waste management for entrepreneurs. Finally, Ricardo Terrades, Creative Director of Una mosca en mi sopa s.l. and expert in gastronomic communication and sustainability, close the day talking about the beneficial results of zero waste restaurants.

 

If you have any questions, please contact us at: +34 687 73 13 65.

R&D&I projects boost Ourense’s biofactory as a European benchmark in circular economy

The results obtained in the CIGAT Biofactory Joint Unit have boosted the development of new R&D&I solutions in the Ourense biofactory, through the new ECOVAL and WalNUT projects.

The Ourense Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is currently a benchmark in circular economy thanks to the transformation it has undergone in recent years by becoming a biofactory, i.e. a new model of facility based on the principles of circular economy, where water is regenerated for subsequent reuse, renewable energy is produced and waste is transformed into resources. In this way, the value of resources is maximised by promoting an energy-neutral model that contributes to zero waste.

The success of the results obtained in the CIGAT Biofactory Joint Unit, the result of the public-private collaboration between Viaqua, Cetaqua and the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN), has served as a basis for the development and implementation of new R&D&I projects, this time with a focus on Europe, such as H2020 Walnut and Interreg Sudoe ECOVAL.

Both projects, aligned with the 2030 Agenda, position Galicia as a European benchmark in terms of the implementation of innovative technologies developed for the efficient management of urban flows and the consequent use of waste for a lower environmental impact.

ECOVAL (Coordination strategies for the management and recovery of sludge and organic waste in the SUDOE region), headed by Cetaqua Galicia, is based on the valorisation of urban organic waste and sewage sludge to obtain bio-products such as Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA), useful for the plastics, lubricants and paint industries, among others. Walnut, led by CARTIF, seeks the recovery of nutrients and the subsequent production of biofertilisers, thus preventing the contamination of water bodies and promoting circularity in the fertiliser industry within the framework of the European Union.

 

More than 100 people attended the event “From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy”, to learn about the technical advances and results of the two European projects being developed in Ourense.

During the event “From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy”, held this morning in the auditorium of Ourense, leading representatives of public administration, universities and companies have come to discuss about the existing social, legal and market barriers for the valorisation of high added value products present in wastewater, useful for industry and agriculture.

The Deputy Mayor of Ourense, Armando Ojea, opened the event by highlighting “the development of research projects in Ourense, which allow giving a second chance to WWTP waste, making the city more sustainable”.

Actors from the entities involved, such as Agbar, Cetaqua and the CARTIF Technology Centre, have intervened to talk about the circular economy models implemented, the valorisation of matter in fatty acids and nutrients applied in the fertiliser industry carried out. On the other hand, the University of Vigo and FEUGA, have participated focusing on the legislative and transfer barriers for the transformation of wastewater treatment plants into biofactories.

The end users of the extracted resources, represented by Repsol, Fertiberia and Grupo Valora have highlighted during their interventions the viability of the application of these compounds in the chemical, petrochemical and fertiliser industries as a key step to promote circular and sustainable models.

During the round table moderated by the Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), Juan Manuel Lema, representatives of the Diputación de Ourense, Cetaqua, Viaqua, Repsol, Fundación Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León (FPNCyL) and Fertiberia met to discuss the potential of water within the circular economy.

Juan José Vázquez, head of Water of the Xunta de Galicia in Ourense, has been in charge of closing the event highlighting the importance of projects like these to build a sustainable future and deal with the problem of the lack of resources and the increase of waste.

The day ended with a guided tour of the Ourense biofactory, where attendees had the opportunity to see, first hand, the facilities and technologies applied for both projects.

7 April: “From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy”

After the postponement in January, the event “From wastewater treatment plants to biofactories: the potential of water in the circular economy“, organised by Cetaqua and FEUGA in the framework of the innovation projects Ecoval Sudoe and WALNUT, is back. It will take place on 7 April in both on-site and online formats.

This meeting aims to explore the concept of biofactories and present the technical advances of both projects. In addition, the social, legal, and market barriers for the valorisation of high added value products for agriculture and industry, such as sludge or biofertilisers obtained from waste flows from urban water treatment plants, will be discussed.

Here you can consult the full programme of the event, which runs from 10:00 to 17:00, with presentations and round tables to reflect on the essential value of water in the transition to a circular economy. The blocks in which the day is divided are:

  • Block I: past, present and future of biofactories.
  • Block II: legislative/transfer barriers to the implementation of biofactories.
  • Block III: end-users of biofactory by-products.
  • Final block: round table.

After a morning of debate and participation, there will be a break for lunch and at 15:30 there will be a visit to the Ourense biofactory, where you can learn about the different water treatment processes.

The event will also be broadcast on Zoom with English translation. The capacity of both the on-site and virtual event is limited, and registration will close when the maximum number of participants is reached. Don’t miss out, register here!

ECOVAL Sudoe with World Water Day

World Water Day is held on 22nd March. In 2022, the spotlight is on groundwater: those that feed, apart from rivers and springs, wells and pumps. Life would not be possible without it. Most arid areas of the planet depend on this resource entirely, which supplies a large proportion of the water we use for consumption, sanitation, food production and industrial processes

Almost all fresh water in liquid form in the world is groundwater. In much of the globe, these reserves are being overexploited and we run the risk of weakening this resource. Moreover, as climate change worsens, groundwater is becoming increasingly critical, making it more necessary than ever to manage it sustainably, as well as reuse and give a second life to the other water sources that we have. The UN has just published its annual report on the state of water to mark the occasion of this day, and you can check it out here.

ECOVAL joins this celebration, which aims to raise awareness about the global water crisis and the need to seek measures to address it so that we can achieve Sustainable Development Goal No. 6: Clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. To get closer to that forecast, we cannot forget about wastewater and its management.

 

1 million, 300 thousand tonnes of sludge not reused

Urban wastewater treatment processes generate large amounts of sludge. In Galicia alone, over 150 thousand tonnes of this sludge are generated each year, which would fill the inside of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral every year. If we were to talk about the figure in the Sudoe space, it would rise to 1 million, 300 thousand tonnes.

This sludge has traditionally been seen as waste, but in the Ecoval Sudoe project we demonstrate the technical feasibility of its transformation into high value-added products such as Volatile Fatty Acids, which are transformed into adhesives, lubricants or paints in the chemical and petrochemical industry or fertilisers. A profound transformation in the management of the water cycle based on the circular economy and sustainability. The Ourense Biofactory thus allows us to go beyond the traditional concept of water purification to transform sludge into new valuable resources and guarantee a second life for it. You can learn more about the function of ECOVAL in wastewater recovery, which allows the cycle of this key resource to be extended for life, in the following video:

To follow the conversation about World Water Day 2022 online, you can use the hashtag #WorldWaterDay or check out the UN account dedicated to it.

Women’s push for SDG 6: clean water and sanitation for all

Every February 11, since 2016, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated. To commemorate it, the United Nations organizes its seventh assembly with the aim of enhancing the role of women as active agents, not only as beneficiaries, in scientific and technological advances that lead us towards a more sustainable and egalitarian future.

Although progress has been made in recent years, women are still underrepresented in STEM. They account for 33.3% of researchers, hold less than a quarter of decision-making positions in educational institutions, represent only 28% of engineering graduates and tend to have shorter and lower-paid careers than their male colleagues, according to UN data. Gender equality, in addition to being a fundamental human right, is essential to meet the complex scientific, ecological and technological challenges of tomorrow with full human potential and sustainable development.

 

Water is the key to life

The theme of this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science is “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”. It aims to put the spotlight on the millions of people who, according to UN reports, will be without access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services by 2030. The causes will be increased demand and poor management of water resources, aggravated by climate change.

The Assembly will bring together scientists and experts from around the world at UN headquarters to discuss the nexus of water in achieving the three pillars of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social justice and environmental integrity. It aims to accelerate the achievement of the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which aims to ensure water availability, sanitation and sustainable water management for all.

ECOVAL is also working in these directions with the reuse of sewage sludge to create high value-added bio-products such as volatile fatty acids. It is estimated that each year, sewage treatment plants in the Sudoe region generate around 1,300,000 tons of water waste that could have a second life thanks to ECOVAL.

Vanesa Paramá, a research biologist at Cetaqua’s pilot plant, who is working to give sludge a second life in line with the circular economy in the water sector, tells us about it. Thanks to her and other researchers, the ECOVAL project is a solid reality.

Anyone who wants to follow the conversation online can use the hashtags #WomenInScience and #February11. For more information you can visit the following website or the program of the event.

 

2nd “Overcoming barriers in the recovery of WWTP sludge and bio-waste” workshop

The Ecoval Sudoe project is a shift in paradigm: from wastewater treatment plants to biofactories. A change of model, from linear to circular, and a change of concept: waste for resources. However, the testing of new technologies for the recovery of resources classified as waste up to now is not enough in itself. Innovation needs to go hand in hand with the acceptance of the business model. To this end, the project is organising a series of workshops in which different specialists answer the question: how can we overcome the barriers in the recovery of bio-waste and WWTP sludge?

The workshop held on January 18, the second in the project, was attended by 16 specialists from the Sudoe Region (Portugal, Spain and France), from sanitation and waste management entities, research centres, environmental authorities, legal consultants and sectoral associations. This event was organised by Águas do Tejo Atlântico with the collaboration of CETAQUA, Porto Ambiente, NEREUS, FEUGA and the Foundation for the Natural Heritage of Castile and Leon.

After the presentation of the project, experts from the three countries shared their experiences on the management of WWTP sludge and bio-waste, the use of value-added products (volatile fatty acids, for example) and waste declassification mechanisms. Forums were then created for each country, where the specific requirements of each Member State were addressed.

The session ended with an analysis of potential synergies in the Sudoe region and the presentation of the main conclusions of the first workshop.

The main barriers identified by the experts include:
– A lack of end-of-waste status criteria for volatile fatty acids produced from WWTP sludge and bio-waste.
– Complicated and time-consuming end-of-waste status processing.
– The absence of a common legal framework for all the Member States undermines the creation of an EU internal market.
– Difficulties in guaranteeing the quality of municipal biological waste from selective collection.

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