AQUAVAL  - Valorisation of water use in aquaculture using multi trophic systems

Project presentation

paula castro 

Paula ML Castro

 Executive Coordinator 

Projects  Partner and Institution:

PL Castro, Universidade Católica Portuguesa-UCP 
A Mosquera Corral, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela-USC 
B Sicuro, University of Torino-DVS  
L Arregui, Grupo TresMares-GTM 

Key words

Multi trophic systems; bacteria; microalgae; bivalves; recycling/reuse; aquaculture effluents


AquaVal is framed in the subtopic in Challenge I the "water reuse and water recycling technologies in the agriculture and freshwater aquaculture sectors", with clear relation to other challenges and subtopics and the European Strategy on Bioeconomy. AquaVal aims to the development of technological solutions for the treatment of water used in freshwater aquaculture facilities. The technological solutions will be combined to comprise a full treatment system, to remove pollutants and valorise effluents following the circular economy precepts. Treated water will be obtained with quality for recycling/reuse to the producing facility or discharge into natural water sources. This system will include the application of biological treatment technologies where biomass is grown in the form of granules and enriched in microbial populations able to remove nutrients and micropollutants. Application of new processes, which are less energy requiring, will be evaluated like: a) anammox, which takes place in nature in large extension, or b) microalgae in association to bacteria. In this way nitrogen will be removed from the water in systems different from biofilters used nowadays, with the advantage that carrier material is not required for biomass support, and that less energy is required. With the output water from the previous described technology, a bivalve filtration unit will be kept, in order to test bivalves growth capacity improving the efficiency of proposed system, thus taking advantage from their filtration ability. This water depuration step will be accomplished using adults bivalves from the wild but, eventually could also be used for rearing endangered species of freshwater mussels in Spain, promoting biodiversity protection and endangered species conservation. Validation of the pilot plant will be performed to evaluate the economic, environmental and production performance of the proposed system. The expected general benefits for aquaculture systems coming from this proposal are: 1) economic benefits derived from the decrease of water consumption when treated water is used for recycling and the use of systems that are less energy demanding; 2) improvement of the social perception of aquaculture plants as they will profit from new technologies that will reduce their environmental impact; 3) reduction of the environmental impact of discharging aquaculture effluents. The proposal involves as beneficiary participants 3 universities (Universidade Católica Portuguesa-UCP, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela-USC, University of Torino-DVS) and 1 company (Grupo TresMares-GTM) which will cooperate closely with stakeholders to achieve the project main objective.

Project structure
 A 36-month research study structured in 6 work packages is envisaged with a consortium comprising institutions with expertise in key areas: Biological water treatment – USC, Spain; UCP, Portugal; Bivalve rearing – DVS, Italy; Technology developers and risk assessment –Aquaculture production-utility – GTM, Spain. University of Gent, Belgium, will be subcontracted by UCP to benefit from the experience on microbial biofloculation and microalgae of Prof Dr. Ir Peter Bossier, whose research on the last 14 years focused on microbial community management in aquaculture systems, and on the possibility that it could contribute to nutrient recovery and health. 


WP1 Project management,
WP2 Polishing units based on bacteria and microalgae;
WP3 Bivalves filtration unitand filtration expertiments;
WP4 Field Trials;
WP5 Evaluation of the integrated system;
WP6 Dissemination and Exploitation


Newer more efficient technologies based on of multi-trophic systems (bacteria, algae and bivalves) to reduce nitrogen and other pollutants to levels which will improve recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) technology; production of water with quality sufficient for recirculation/reuse; use of bivalves as depuration units, using wastewater as a resource, converting it into bivalve biomass, potentially utilizable in aquaculture feeds; The use of bivalves rearing unit for depuration can indirectly increase biodiversity when the system is tested with endangered species.

References coordinator and  leaders of  each WP:

WP1, P Castro-UCP;
WP2, P Castro-UCP;
WP3, B Sicuro-DVS;
WP4, A Mosquera-USC;
WP5, L Arregui-GTM;
WP6 E Cardoso-UCP.

Contact Point for  Communication/Dissemination activities:

E Cardoso

Contact Point for Open Data/Open Access activities:

CL Amorim - UCP

Picture of the research team:

Water JPI key achievements 2011-2016

This publication presents the ten main goals achieved by the initiative till now.



Open Data & Open Access
Water JPI Interface

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