Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Closing material flows by wastewater treatment with green technologies

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.02.09  Engineering sciences and technologies  Chemical engineering  Ecological technology 

Code Science Field
P305  Natural sciences and mathematics  Environmental chemistry 

Code Science Field
2.04  Engineering and Technology  Chemical engineering  
closing material flows, nutrient cycling, water treatment, municipal wastewater, micropollutants, environmental and health risks, green technologies
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (23)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  19443  PhD Nataša Atanasova  Hydrology  Researcher  2018 - 2020  252 
2.  22304  PhD Mojca Bavcon Kralj  Chemistry  Researcher  2017 - 2018  195 
3.  31232  PhD Rozalija Cvejić  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2019  167 
4.  34431  PhD Marjeta Česen  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2018  58 
5.  31151  PhD Rok Fink  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2017  263 
6.  28495  PhD Matjaž Glavan  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2019  282 
7.  05099  PhD Karmen Godič Torkar  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2017 - 2018  260 
8.  52125  Tjaša Gornik  Chemistry  Technical associate  2018 - 2020  25 
9.  11790  PhD Tjaša Griessler Bulc  Biology  Head  2017 - 2020  507 
10.  12315  PhD Ester Heath  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2020  592 
11.  27679  PhD Darja Istenič  Biology  Researcher  2018 - 2020  245 
12.  10689  PhD Damijana Kastelec  Mathematics  Researcher  2017 - 2020  235 
13.  34230  PhD Sabina Kolbl Repinc  Hydrology  Researcher  2017  119 
14.  24234  Peter Korpar  Plant production  Technical associate  2017 - 2019 
15.  27733  PhD Tina Kosjek  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2020  354 
16.  26067  PhD Aleksandra Krivograd Klemenčič  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2020  300 
17.  13073  PhD Rok Mihelič  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2020  468 
18.  31617  PhD Andrej Ovca  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2017 - 2018  309 
19.  33872  PhD Marilyne Pflieger  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2018  57 
20.  10024  PhD Marina Pintar  Plant production  Researcher  2017 - 2020  838 
21.  35550  PhD Franja Prosenc  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2018 - 2020  65 
22.  11539  PhD Polonca Trebše  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2020  507 
23.  19259  PhD Vesna Zupanc  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2019  355 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  88,610 
2.  0382  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences  LJUBLJANA  1627155  14,152 
3.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  65,921 
4.  0792  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering  Ljubljana  1626981  26,315 
Growing urbanization, increasing resource consumption, climate change and the transition to a low carbon society require increasing flexibility of the urban environment, more sustainable water use and wastewater (WW) re-use. Nowadays water, energy, food and adequate infrastructures are advancing technologically, but they are functioning in a linear and disconnected way (extract-use-dispose). Re-use of resources (water, nutrients) by recycling WW results in “closing material flows”, which leads to the sustainable WW management. Resource recovery technologies or Green technologies (GreenT) enable recovery of nutrients from WW and reuse of treated water; however most of GreenT are still looking for improvements in their performance and economic feasibility. This calls for scientific evaluation of potential of GreenT and for development of an appropriate Decision Support System (DSS) based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).   The core principle of the project is the performance evaluation of a closed material flow concept by three GreenT at two scales a) lab-scale, and b) pilot-scale at demo centre located at central WWTP Ajdovščina. The three tested GreenT are 1) algae based technology (ABT) with production of algae biomass and water for irrigation; 2) constructed wetland (CW) with production of water for irrigation, both in combination with advanced oxidation processes (AOP) for enhancement of biodegradability of micropollutants present in municipal WW; 3) evapotranspiration system (ETS) with zero outflow for wood biomass production. The algae biomass from ABT can be used for bio fertilisers, biofuels, biogas, feed, bioplastics, extraction of high value components; the wood biomass from ETS can be used for energy production and the media from ETS as fertilizer. The final products from GreenT including produced water enable closing the material flows of WW; however, the final products of GreenT may contain micropollutants like heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, industrial chemicals, pesticides etc. which may affect human health and environment. Because the conventional WWTPs are not designed for removing micropollutants and because of potential estrogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic activity of these pollutants, their removal and fate in the GreenT in combination with AOP is of great interest. In the proposed project two selected groups of micropollutants will be monitored, namely bisphenol A (BPA) and its alternatives as emerging industrial chemicals and neonicotinoids as a new class of insecticides that have a great potency and systemic action for crop protection against sucking pests.   The final products of GreenT will be tested for agricultural use in pot and lysimeter experiments. In this way the valuable results will be obtained on how potentially hazard compounds and nutrients from municipal WW cycle and how environmental and health risk can be managed by water and nutrient reuse. For selected GreenT an extensive database to support decisions about their applications will be elaborated. Learning from three case studies while considering a LCA will provide a detailed insight to the locally recovered resources and evaluating them from small to bigger scale. The core of the project will be water and biomass quality, water and nutrient balance, and its optimisation as well as LCA as a base for DSS. It will allow the acquisition of new scientific knowledge because research related to the closing material flows demonstrated by different GreenT from small to bigger scale is new and rare. This is partly due to the awareness regarding limited phosphorus reserves and knowledge of efficient closed material flows in the context of ecosystem services is low and consequently the acceptance of resource oriented technologies.
Significance for science
Results of the project show a high level of scientific relevance since the project will try to answer the many open issues identified in the scientific background (point 11) and  state-of-the-art review (point 12). Many EU calls, in particular H2020, reflect the need for R&D of green technologies or nature-based solutions as part of the green&blue infrastructure of the resilience cities of the future with the aim of re-use of water, nutrients and other products along with reduced energy consumption, reduced environmental foot-print and increased ecosystem services. However, capabilities and limitations of these approaches operating on closed-loop concept are not studied or studies are rare, individual and do not combine the technologic, economic and health aspects of end products use.   Project will contribute to designing of new development directions: nature-based solutions; urban agriculture; adaptive, resilience, green cities; no waste&zero emissions; phosphorus sources restoration, circular economy, water-food-energy nexus.   Project work will contribute to the development of the following fields:   1. Ecological engineering · Introducing the concept of closing material flows into Slovenian and international research sphere (research results will enable H2020 applications) · Development of new technologies of municipal wastewater treatment and its safe re-use · Obtaining key findings on plant&algal biomass use in connection with municipal wastewater and its use in agriculture · Development of new advanced technologies (AOP) or. a combination of AOP with green technologies for the removal of specific pollutants from municipal wastewater 2. Chemical analytics · Development and optimisation of new analytical and measurement methods for determination of specific pollutants and monitoring of identification of key degradation parameters with possibility of feed-back control to assure optimal conditions and efficiency of the treatment system 3. Agronomy · Development of new aspects of production and safe use of nutrients and their returning to the fields, safe food, re-use of water for irrigation 4. Biology · Selection of plant&algae species for increasing of phytoremediation, phytoextraction, evapotranspiration and biomass as added values 5. Public health · Development of new technologies and processes for water disinfection and specific pollutants removal from treated wastewater · New aspects of closing material flows on impact on human health 6. Energetics · Improving energy, material and economic efficiency in the production of wood biomass for heating · Development of higher energy self-sufficiency and development of bioenergy and biofuels from wood&algae biomass 7. Circular economy · Development of new possibilities for phosphorous recovery and reducing the risk of exploitation of its natural reserves · Establishment of water-energy-energy nexus
Significance for the country
Project results will have direct impact on economy and on whole society (SRIP Smart cities, Circular economy, Food, Sustainable food production) in the field of municipal wastewater treatment (WW), drinking water supply, biological waste processing, energetics, agronomy at several levels: Public companies for water supply and sewerage, bio-waste treatment Agricultural sector Energetic sector People supplied Wider society and nature (promotion of: National action plan for implementation of cradle to cradle principles (www.odzibkedozibke.si), material-efficient societies (www.c2cn.eu) and transition of Slovenia to a low carbon society, zero-waste concept (ebm.si/zw/o), Circular economy action plan (ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm), Environmental technologies action plan (ec.europa.eu/environment/ecoap/about-action-plan/etap-previous-action-plan_en). Project positive effects: Efficient re-use of WW (e.g. use of treated municipal WW for irrigation and thus reduced use of water from other sources) Efficient re-use of »waste« like plant&algal biomass for fertiliser production, fish feed, wood chips and pellets Reduced negative impact of municipal WW on environment and water bodies Reduced consumption of mineral fertilizers in agriculture (due to phosphorus and nitrogen recovery from municipal WW back to the fields) Reduced use of fossil fuels due to their replacement with wood and algal biomass Education and environmental awareness of wider society on green-blue infrastructure, green technologies, nature-based solutions, ecosystem services, closing material flows and concepts listed in point 5 of this chapter Contribution towards changes from linear society to circular and processing society   Project is in accordance with national (OG 98/15) and EU legislation with strong focus on promotion of sustainable technologies and renewable energy (Directive 2001/77/EC), sustainable water use (WFD 2000/60/EC), waste separation and re-use (Waste Directive 2006/12/EC). The project is in accordance with Community strategic guidelines for rural development (2006/144/EC), Common agricultural policy (www.copa-cogeca.eu), which focuses on sustainable food production, climate change and low carbon society, and with European innovation partnership in water promoting innovations in water sector (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/innovationpartnership/). Pilot systems studied can be as whole systems or single units further developed for marketing resulting in obtaining new competences in field of water management, plant&algal biomass use for production of fertilzers, fish feed, wood chips and pellets, establishment of new companies and new employments (green jobs) consequently reducing unemployment in Slovenia.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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