Project presentation

xavier munoz 


 Executive Coordinator 

Projects  Partner and Institution: 

Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona;
Waterologies SL;

Institut national de la recherche agronomique;

Istituto per il Rilevamento Elettromagnetico dell’Ambiente 

Key words: aquaponics, microbial sensors, optical sensing, eco-friendly disinfection, smart systems

The main objective of SMARTECOPONICS is the design and development of a novel approach for monitoring the main biological hazards affecting consumers of aquatic foods. This includes pathogens (coliforms and cyanobacteria) and biotoxins that, when consumed in excess of threshold quantities, can lead to illness. The proposal offers a complete solution to monitor microbiological species involved into maintain the equilibrium among microbial activity, nutrients and wastes along the value chain of aquaponics regards human health risks. Some aspects regard this equilibrium like reduction new water make-up consumption, could increase bacterial concentration, and tis risk have to be minimised.The world is facing a number of serious problems of which population rise, climate change, soil degradation, water scarcity and food security are among the most important. Aquaponics, as a closed loop system consisting of hydroponics and aquaculture elements, could contribute to addressing these problems. Mineral transfers from aquaculture to hydroponics support efficient nutrient recycling, while water recirculation reduces the water use. The regular exchange of water performed in conventional aquaculture systems is not necessary in aquaponics. Thus, in aquaponics, nitrate in excess is used for valuable plant production instead of being removed in gaseous form in denitrification units.Its role for food security would be particularly relevant because the global population now exceeds 7.2 billion and is growing rapidly. It is expected to reach 9.6 billion around 2050 with more than 75% living in urban areas. Urban population growth will require an increasing demand for animal protein. However, the future of conventional farming, including intensive animal protein production, in meeting this demand is challenged by rising but fluctuating energy and oil costs, climate change and pollution. The aquaponics concept is promising to contribute to both global and urban sustainable food production and should at the same time diminish pollution and need for resources.Aquaponics is an integrated multi-trophic system that combines elements of recirculating aquaculture and hydroponics , wherein the water from the fish tanks that is enriched in nutrients is used for plant growth. The interlinking of aquaculture and hydroponic procedures allows some of the shortcomings of the respective systems to be addressed, and this represents a promising sustainable food production method. Aquaponics system design and application can be considered a highly multidisciplinary approach drawing from environmental, mechanical and civil engineering design concepts as well as aquatic and plant related biology, biochemistry, and biotechnology. System specific measurements and control technologies also require knowledge of subjects related to the field of computer science for automatic control systems.Given the fact that aquaponics follows nutrient and water reusing principles, it seems to be a promising solution for sustainable aquaculture and hydroponic practices. These challenges need to be resolved with the aim to establish fully controlled and standardized aquaponic systems that will be easy to handle and economically viable. The competitiveness of the production method depends on technological developments, local markets, and climatic and geographic conditions that need to be assessed and cannot be generalized.

Project structure
The consortium is built by 4 partners who all have a significant role in the work programme, the following management structure will be implemented which is appropriate to the complexity of the work to be undertaken, the size of the consortium and its diversity. The management structure comprises: Work package leaders who are responsible for the day to day Workpackage activity and the WP deliverables; a Project Coordinator who oversees the programme of work and interfaces with the Water JPI; who monitors the progress of the work and undertakes project administration. The main decision making body will be a Steering Committee comprising of one representative from each consortium partner, whose role is to oversee and guide the project to meet its objectives. In addition, there will be an Exploitation and Impact sub-committee to ensure that IP is fully utilised and strong, appropriate plans are made to ensure effective exploitation. 


We have presented a well-structured work plan based on general principles of project management and cost control while monitoring the progress during its execution accomplished in 6 work packages:
WP1 Project Management/Coordination
WP2 Specifications of microbial monitoring systems and disinfection needs
WP3 Development of microbial sensing devices
WP4 Development of an eco-friendly disinfection system
WP5 Conditioning Aquaponic pilot plants for on-site sensing.


D1.1. Dissemination plan (M6)
D1.2. Risk management (M6)
D1.3. Periodic Reports (M12, M24 and M30);
D2.1. Aquaponics scenario and sensing requirements (M6)
D2.2. Disinfection needs in aquaponics facilities (M6); D3.1. Sampling system (M15)
D3.2. Sensing devices and specifications (M20);
D4.1. New membranes cells for more efficient water disinfection (M15) D4.2. Impact of hypochlorous acid-based disinfection in Aquaponics (M21);
D5.1. Aquaponic pilot plant description and Smart Systems parts (M24); D6.1. Demonstration and Validation in a pilot-scale (M30)
D6.2. Business and exploitation plan. Technology roadmap (M30)

References coordinator and  leaders of  each WP:

WP1: F Xavier Muñoz (IMB-CNM-CSIC);
WP2: Laurent Labbé (INRA-PEIMA);
WP3: Romeo Bernini (IREA-CNR);
WP4: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Waterologies SL);
WP5: Laurent Labbé (INRA-PEIMA);
WP6: Antonio Cuevas (Waterologies SL)

Contact Point for  Communication/Dissemination activities:

Antonio Cuevas (Waterologies SL)

Contact Point for Open Data/Open Access activities:

F Xavier Muñoz

Picture of the research team: