WATINTECH: Smart decentralized water management through a dynamic integration of tecnologies


Project presentation

 Ignasi Rodriguez-Roda Coordinator 
Prof. Ignasi Rodriguez-Roda
Projects  Partner and Institution:

Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)
Universita' di Catania (UNICT)
Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
Universidade Nova de Lisboa (NOVA.ID.FCT)


The WATINTECH project proposes a combination of concepts of sewer mining with urban run-off treatment in decentralized treatment facilities to enhance the recovery of valuable resources including water, methane (heat, energy) and value-added chemicals, either extracting or producing them from the fluxes inside a sewage pipe. It is also postulated thatthis combination improves the management of centralized wastewater infrastructures under variable weather events (such as heavy rain episodes combined with long dry periods). The impact of sewer mining and wastewater characteristics on downstream wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) will also be analysed. In an ideal scenario, besides generating the value-added products for local reuse, decentralized treatment will also impact positively on the existing centralized sewage collection and treatment facilities, an aspect rarely taken into account in the design of decentralized infrastructure. WATINTECH summons an inter-disciplinary consortium offering capabilities that cover the whole R&D value chain - from fundamental research to market uptake. The project will advance the state-of-the-art of novel technologies to achieve five main objectives in four experimental work packages (WP 1-4) employing different size laboratory and pilot-plants and one theoretical work package modelling process innovations and providing system wide optimization (WP 5).

Project structure


WATINTECH is structured around five complementary technical work packages. ICRA is the coordinator and
responsible of the management, while ACCIONA Agua and UNICT lead WP1, ICRA leads WP2 and WP3,
NOVA.ID.FCT leads WP4, and DTU leads WP5. The experimental work packages (1-4) combine the use of 7
technologies and/or processes interconnected through the streams exchanged, while WP5 receives data (and
knowledge) from WP 1-4 to develop the mechanistic models and build the DSS.


The main goal of the project is the development of effective decentralised wastewater treatment-water
recovery units that, besides locally reclaimed products, will allow a better control of wastewater infrastructures
under variable weather events, easing the pressure on the centralised systems, thus expanding their asset life-time
and reducing the treatment costs. To do this, we will combine fundamental research with optimization and
integration of novel and existing treatment processes for decentralised water reclamation via sewer mining and
urban run-off treatment and storage, with a strong focus on the water-energy nexus. The project specifically aims at
providing fit-for-purpose quality reclaimed water from different wastewater streams produced within a city
suburb. This will be achieved simultaneously with the energy recovery from wastewater via enhanced biogas
production in anaerobic digestion. Implementation of an innovative electrochemical system for improving biogas
quantity and quality will facilitate the production of several value-added chemicals, which will be dosed
directly to the local sewer network to control detrimental sulphide emissions. The inclusion of constructed
wetlands for urban run-off treatment and water storage will provide the overall concept with the robustness to
deal with heavy rain periods and dry weather episodes, besides offering social amenity for the local community.
The existing downstream WWTP will be optimized to treat wastewater with lower COD and higher pH. New
mechanistic models will be developed and used for process optimization, while the integration of sewer mining
with the centralised urban water system under different scenarios will be analyzed with a multi-criteria decision
support system. To accomplish the main objective of the project, a set of novel
and existing low-energy, low cost, low chemical and high efficiency technologies will be investigated, including
their optimization with advanced modelling tools. The specific objectives are:
• Technical and economic evaluation of long-term forward osmosis filtration of real wastewater.
• Select a specific draw solution for the FO+AnMBR process, that fulfils the requirements of both the FO
process (cost, flux, good recovery) and the posterior anaerobic process (low impact on the biomass). • Evaluate the viability of using a CW for alternative treatment of urban run-off and reclaimed water. Impact of
evapotranspiration rates, salinity and nutrient-rich effluents will be studied.
• Energy recovery optimization of an AnMBR treating wastewater concentrated with FO. Effect of treatment
temperature, hydraulic retention time and membrane fouling will be carefully assessed.
• Study the application of an electrochemical unit coupled to the AnMBR to minimize sulphide inhibition of
methanogenesis and generate value-added chemicals used to control sulphide formation in sewers.
• Optimization of the nitritation/ denitritation pathway in the WWTP downstream to remove nitrogen and
phosphorus in the presence of wastewater with a low chemical oxygen demand (COD) content.
• Develop a set of mathematical models describing some of the innovative processes to foster their integrated
• Develop a multi-criteria DSS based on the developed models and knowledge acquired for planning of
integrated centralised/decentralised urban water systems.

References coordinator and  leaders of  each WP:

Ignasi Rodriguez-Roda
Giuseppe Cirelli
Teresa de la Torre
Krist V Gernaey
Adrian Oehmen

Contact Point for  Communication/Dissemination activities:
Laura Bertolini

Contact Point for Open Data/Open Access activities:
Laura Bertolini



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