Retema magazine reviews the LIFE ENRICH and LIFE NECOVERY projects

Retema, one of the Spain’s leading journals about the environment counting with more than 30 years of experience, published in the January – February 2018 edition an article entitled The recovery of nutrients from wastewater: a necessity for the treatment plant of the future. This article analyses the current state of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs): nowadays the discharge limits are more and more restrictive, which leads to high consumption of energy and chemicals necessary for the elimination of nitrogen and phosphorus from the wastewater. On the other hand, if we look at agriculture, both nitrogen and phosphorus are essential elements in the production of fertilizers. These two facts suggest that the actual scenario could definetely be more sustainable and thus it is necessary to implement alternative resources management models, the ones based on circular economy principles.
In this context, the co-authors of the article, researchers from Cetaqua, Avecom, SUEZ and Emuasa, reviews two European initiatives funded under Life programme: LIFE NECOVERY and LIFE ENRICH. What both projects have in common is the aim of changing the current concept of WWTPs, from being energy consumers to resource recovery sites. In particular, the LIFE NECOVERY aimed to demonstrate, during 2013-2017, the feasibility of an innovative WWTP flowsheet based on a carbon (C) redirection step (biosorption) at the inlet of the WWTP, followed by a nitrogen (N) recovery unit. For its part, the LIFE ENRICH team, since September 2018 is focusing the efforts on the nutrients recovery from wastewater and their usage in the fertilizer industry. The work carried out in the framework of these two projects definitely marks a step forward in the evolution of the WWTPs.

The actual nutrient management scenario in WWTPs could be much more sustainable by implementing circular economy principles and practices