The operation of the LIFE ENRICH pilot plant starts

The operation of the LIFE ENRICH pilot plant starts

After months of careful preparation, Cetaqua finally started the operation of the LIFE ENRICH pilot plant, located in Murcia Este WWTP, in the EMUASA facilities, in late 2019. The main goal of this system is to test an innovative treatment train integrating leading-edge technologies that will enable efficient recovery of both Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) contained in the wastewater, as ammonium salts and struvite, respectively. In a separate pilot plant, managed by IRTA, the products obtained will be blended to obtain suitable fertilizers and test them with selected crops.

Phosphorus and nitrogen recovery occur in the sludge line. Phosphorus is released from organic matter by mixing primary and secondary sludge in a chamber with specific operating conditions. The supernatant of this chamber is enriched in phosphorus and sent to the crystallization unit in order to produce the struvite.

Nitrogen is recovered directly from dewatering centrates. This stream is first pretreated to remove organic matter and suspended solids and then treated with a technology combining ion exchange with zeolites and membrane contactors to produce ammonium salts.

LIFE ENRICH pilot plant processes

Which are the benefits of LIFE ENRICH?

LIFE ENRICH aims to contribute to the circular economy through the recovery of nutrients from wastewater and their use in the fertilizer industry.

The specific benefits of LIFE ENRICH are:

  • Operation of a treatment train which will enable to recover P and N from wastewater.
  • 10% reduction of the WWTP OPEX (operation cost).
  • 10% reduction of the N2O emissions, thanks to efficient fertilizer management.
  • 80% – 90% reduction of the emissions associated to the conventional N-fertilizers production.
  • Increase crop productivity.
  • Guidelines for successful replication of the value chain in other countries.
  • ENRICH Business model.