Water scarcity and droughts have become a main concern in the European Union as intensity and extension of such phenomena have been increasing in the last few years. They have direct impact on citizens and economic sectors which use and depend on water, like agriculture. Therefore, sustainable technological solutions for its treatment and reuse are sought to mitigate these adverse effects.
ALGATEC II: Wash water recycling in the production of olive oil
“The cost is competitive compare to traditional treatment systems and adds important environmental benefits.
The treatment and disposal of wastewater used for washing olives is in particular, a major problem in the production of olive oil industry. Millions of tons are used each year for this purpose and is a highly polluting waste due to its high levels of BOD, COD, phenolic compounds, fats and oils, nitrates and phosphates.
The ALGATEC II project, demonstration activity base don the promising results of the ALGATEC Project (FP7-SME-2008, contract nº 232331), aims was to optimize a biological solution to recycle wash water from olives, consisting of a photobioreactor system, using a consortium of microorganisms for biodepuration, followed by a membrane system to produce drinkable water to be reused in the washing process.
The innovation and competitiveness of the ALGATEC II system allows the participating SMEs entering in a rapid growth market s the one of olive washing water treatment and reuse.
Within the ALGATEC II project, a pilot plant was installed at the Cooperative DESAM (Puente Genil, Cordoba) and tested under real conditions during the 2014-2015 campaign. The evaluation of the system performance was performed taking into consideration the technical aspect (treatment capacity) and economical aspect (competitiveness of the proposed solution).
Five European SMEs, from 3 EU countries, 4 partners of the ALGATEC project, together with a new SME specialised in market studies, has worked in the optimisation of this innovative system. All these measures have allowed the ALGATEC II system to become more competitive in the market, opening new market opportunities for its commercialization by the participating SMEs.
– To provide an affordable technical solution for reducing the consumption of drinkable water in the olives washing process by 90 % and increasing the overall water efficiency of the process by 80% based on the solution developed in ALGATEC.
– To diminish the overall effluent of polluted water produced in olive oil mills, reducing the wastewater management costs and the environmental impact of wastes.
– To increase the competitiveness of the participant SMEs and the European olive oil industry through a cost-effective WW treatment and an improved water management.
– The ALGATEC II system demonstrates a clear step beyond the state-of-the-art at technological level with the advantage of a self-regulated, low-cost modular system that enables efficient and environmentally friendly treatment of WW. During the pilot plant tests the SMEs have gained practical experiences and knowledge about the performance of the system under real conditions.
– For the tested capacities, PBR water outlet parameters are into the discharge limit values for Spanish legislation in this field. This means that the effluent at this stage could be discharged to the public sewage system by the olive mills without involving any legal problem.
– In addition, the final effluent after passing through membrane module has drinking water quality which allows the safe reuse in the production process. All these results clearly demonstrate the potential of the purification ALGATEC II and its important pollutant treatment capacity.
– The treatment cost for the ALGATEC II system, calculated for a treatment plant to the needs of the oil mill chosen for testing and referred to prices in Spain, is estimated between 2.40 €/m3 (for basic configuration which only includes the PBR system) and 10.40 €/m3 (for the complete system with membranes module).
– This cost is competitive with the cost of the traditional treatment system and adds important environmental benefits, affecting the price of the final product in amounts well below the euro cents. Specifically from 0.0048 to 0.0012 euros per liter of oil on the market depending on the system configuration chosen, referred to the Spanish market price.