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Innovative hybrid MBR-(PAC-NF) systems to promote water reuse (aWARE)
Start date: Jan 1, 2013, End date: Nov 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Freshwater scarcity has become a major concern in many arid and semi-arid countries worldwide. Increasing demand has been a major contributing factor, for reasons including continued population growth, new consumption patterns and industrial development. There are also significant supply issues, including over-dependence on single supply sources, depletion and pollution of groundwater, and hydrological and climate change. The need to overcome freshwater scarcity and unsustainable consumption practices has led many countries to develop and exploit non-conventional water resources, traditionally considered marginal, such as the re-use of wastewater from anthropogenic activities. Such water re-use is emerging as a viable alternative source of high-quality water. In 2004, it was estimated that 700 million m3/yr of wastewater were re-used in Europe (Angelakis et al., 2008). However, there is still a lack of re-use experience, limiting both its implementation and optimisation. The 2008 figure accounts for less than 20% of the estimated water re-use potential. The main challenges related to water re-use need to be overcome, including reliability, removal of recalcitrant compounds, energy consumption, reagent consumption and costs. The feasibility and advantages of water re-use in environmental and economic terms also need to be demonstrated. Objectives The 'aWARE' project aims to promote the re-use of reclaimed water within water management organisations. To this end, the project hopes to demonstrate the technical feasibility and economic and environmental advantages of two different technologies as advanced treatments for wastewater and reclamation facilities. The project proposes an innovative hybrid process using membrane bioreactors (MBR), powdered activated carbon (PAC) and nanofiltration (NF) to enable re-use of wastewater. It will experiment with MBR-PAC-NF configurations - including PAC dosage and cleaning conditions - to optimise their efficiency and reliability. It hopes to demonstrate the feasibility of such a process in removing contaminants, define the optimal operation for each configuration and identify risk assessment factors. The project will evaluate the energy and reagents consumption, as well as sludge and footprint minimisation of the systems. It will carry out lifecycle assessment (LCA) and cost/benefit analysis (CBA) for the environmental and economic impact of the proposed configurations to enable comparison with existing advanced treatments. Through the development of these novel approaches, the project also hopes to improve the operational flexibility and reduce the fouling effects of other reclamation processes, such as hybrid ultra-filtration and reverse-osmosis (UF-RO) systems. By consolidating knowledge about water reclamation technologies and promoting water re-use initiatives among water management bodies, the project hopes to enable both implementation of existing EU environmental policy and further legislation in the re-use of wastewater. It ultimately seeks to contribute to a considerable water re-use scheme at EU level. Expected results: The project expects to demonstrate the feasibility of a MBR-PAC-NF prototype for treating reclaimed water for re-use, that will deliver: An optimised process with defined operating configurations and flexibility, providing long membrane lifetime and limited area requirements for the installation; Improved water quality and quantity – with a quantified reduction in chemical and microbiological content; Control plans for water quality monitoring, providing a basis for future risk assessment and risk management strategies; Lower environmental impacts than conventional exploitation of natural water resources, as shown by quantified reductions in energy and chemical consumption and waste; Reduced costs in comparison with conventional approaches; Demonstrated reliability and safety – contributing to eventual regulation of the sector to ensure public and industry confidence; and The fulfilment of EU Directives.
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