Innovation: Innovative Urban Waste Treatment: A Sustainable Approach Using Hydrodynamic And Biological Technologies

Last update: 29.06.2013
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Case studies in: 
urban wastewater‚ urban area‚ waste treatment‚ solid waste‚ separated collection‚ residual waste‚
Selective collection of Urban Solid Waste (USW) is already an established practice in several countries, which manage organic matter, glass, plastics and paper as separate residues that have their own channels of recovery and treatment. Yet, there is still a substantial amount of waste - the rest fraction - that is not sorted at source and that needs to be managed. A significant portion of this solid rest fraction goes to landfill or for incineration containing a high percentage of organic matter.However, waste treatment facilities do exist, which use different types of mechanical and biological processes to recover or reuse as much organic residue as possible before disposing to landfill or incineration. Spain, and especially Catalonia, has developed Eco-Parks for this purpose. The efficiency values of these facilities are good, but there is still room for improvement.Urban wastewater is typically dealt with as a totally separate waste stream, and treated in separate waste management systems. It is generally managed in wastewater treatment plants, specifically designed to meet stringent legislation standards.
The overall objective of the URWASTECH project is to demonstrate a more efficient and sustainable treatment of the rest fraction from sorted urban solid wastes. It aims to integrate the treatment of this fraction with wastewater management, to create a highly innovative pilot plant for the processing of urban waste.The project will develop and demonstrate an innovative treatment plant, integrating several technologies to separate and treat organic matter from the rest fraction of urban solid waste. It will use a hydro-mechanical separation technique and biological treatment processes, including anaerobic digestion, membrane biological treatment and wetland technologies.Wastewater will be used as solvent for the proposed urban solid waste treatment. This not only avoids the need for clean water consumption in the hydro-mechanical treatment, but also provides a higher organic content to facilitate anaerobic digestion. The project also aims to improve the efficiency of the hydro-mechanical separation so as to reduce the percentage of undesirable non-organic materials entering the anaerobic digester.Optimisation of the separation and anaerobic digestion processes will ensure the delivery of a number of high-quality and valuable by-products, including: biogas for use as a renewable energy source, potentially compostable waste biomass, depurated water, and separated plastics and metals, which may be reused or recycled.By improving the value of urban solid waste and wastewater, the technology will promote the sustainable management of a greater amount of sorted material. This should result in a reduction in the percentage of urban waste being sent to landfill. Furthermore, the waste that is sent to landfill will have a reduced organic content, thus reducing the environmental threat from the leaching of contaminants to the soil.

Expected results:

- Demonstrated feasibility of an innovative system for the combined treatment of the rest fraction of urban solid waste and waste water;
- Definition of optimum conditions for increasing the quality and quantity of by-products;
- Reduction in the amount of urban solid waste sent to landfill and associated environmental threats from leachate;
- Depurated water as a by-product with many potential uses;
- Production of more than 150 m3 of biogas per tonne of residue - with a 65% CH4 content, capable of producing more than 5 kWh per m3 or twice as much energy as is needed to run the pilot treatment plant;
- Waste biomass that can be used as compost;
- Separated metals and plastics that can be recycled or reused.

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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: Innovative Urban Waste Treatment: A Sustainable Approach Using Hydrodynamic And Biological Technologies


01.10.2011 to 01.04.2014

completed project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

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Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: Mr. SASETA Dirk


Phone: +34 93 788 23 00