Innovation: Demonstration Project For Water Saving In Car Wash Premises Using Innovative Detergents And Soft Treatment Systems.

Last update: 29.06.2013
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Case studies in: 
water saving‚ waste water treatment‚ cleansing product‚ alternative material‚
The balance between water demand and supply has reached critical levels in many European areas. The effects of climate change and the alteration of rain patterns and hydrological systems will only intensify the problem in years to come. In some Mediterranean regions with frequent droughts, urban development is putting the viability of existing water resources at risk. That is the case in Catalonia, Spain, where this project is based, which has high urban water consumption. One sector contributing to this high consumption is commercial car washing. At present, car-washes in the project city of Girona use only drinking water from the tap – each car washed consuming 350 litres of water. And this is not the only environmental threat posed by the industry. It also uses detergents in cleaning and waxing vehicles, none of which can be considered completely safe. Some detergents currently used contain hazardous substances classified in Directive 67/548/CEE as highly toxic to water organisms.
The project beneficiary operates a busy car-wash business – providing employment to people with intellectual disabilities – and believes it can help to show how water shortages can be managed more effectively by better planning to reduce consumption and technical improvements in the treatment and recycling of wastewater.
The MINAQUA project aims to demonstrate experimentally that by using an integrated management system and innovative, environmentally-friendly technologies, the impact on water resources of an urban activity such as commercial car washing can be substantially reduced.The project will specifically set out to provide a technical and environmental solution that minimises consumption of clean piped water and reduces the volume and pollutant load of generated wastewater. Specifically, the project will:

1. Demonstrate that “soft” treatments are able to treat wastewater from car wash services in an effective way;
2.3. Use laboratory experiments with alternative detergents to evaluate efficiency and applicability at full scale in car washes;
4. Demonstrate that the application of new environmentally-friendly finishing products – waxes and similar products – may extend the period required between washes by helping to avoid accumulation of dirt on vehicle surfaces;
5. Show that use of such detergents and waxes can reduce the pollutant load in wastewater, improving the efficiency of the treatment system;
6. Investigate whether the quality of the water regenerated by soft treatment systems is acceptable to be recycled in car-wash activities, thus reducing consumption of piped water;
7. Disseminate results and experience from the project to different stakeholders – scientific, professional, general public – and to promote implementation of these technologies in other sectors; and
8. Promote integrated management of water by political action, particularly by developing municipal regulations about consumption, treatment and recycling.Expected results The project will achieve the following quantified results:

1. Demonstrate that water use in commercial car washes of 350 litres per vehicle can be reduced by more than half;
2. Demonstrate that innovative biodegradable detergents can be effective in cleaning vehicles, whilst also reducing consumption of water for rinsing operations;
3. Increase water recycling and re-use;
4. Reduce the presence of surfactants present in wastewater from car washing;
5. Reduce frequency of car washing through use of improved finishing products;
6. Publish and disseminate to relevant stakeholders technical studies and good practice guides; and
7. Enable stricter regulation on water consumption, treatment and recycling.

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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: Demonstration Project For Water Saving In Car Wash Premises Using Innovative Detergents And Soft Treatment Systems.


16.07.2012 to 30.09.2016

on-going project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

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Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: MASSANAS Sara