Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Reuse of nutrient rich wastewaters for the cultivation of wood plants as an alternative energy source

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.08.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Control and care of the environment   

Code Science Field
B270  Biomedical sciences  Plant ecology 
wastewater, landfill leachate, heavy metals, sludge, willow, poplar, Salix. Populus, phytoremediation, reusable nutrient sources, energy wood biomass, short-rotation coppice, renewable energy sources
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (1)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  19043  PhD Maja Zupančič Justin  Control and care of the environment  Head  2008 - 2009  356 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  1509  Limnos, podjetje za aplikativno ekologijo, d.o.o. (Slovene)  Brezovica pri Ljubljani  5834112  209 
Increased emphasis has been given recently in Slovenia on direction toward the alternative and renewable energy sources. In the same time we confront with high amounts of wastewaters and sludge, which treatment represents high costs and hard soluble problem. In spite of known composition of different wastewaters and their high nutrient value for the plants, they are, in Slovenia still considered only as residues and are rarely used as a secondary nutrient source. In Scandinavian countries, Great Britain, USA and Canada the application of municipal wastewater, municipal waste landfill leachate, industrial wastewater (e.g. log-yard runoff), waste sludge from wastewater treatment plants and wood ash, is widely used for irrigation and fertilisation of short rotation coppice plantation. The purpose is double, biomass cultivation for energy purposes and in the same time phytoremediation of water, soil and air with the reduction of pollutants and nutrients with plant up-take and filtration and accelerated microbial transformation. The aim of the research is to study the performance and sustainability of the fast growing tree plantations as multipurpose systems, which enable treatment of different kind of waste residues and in the same time cultivation of energy crops. Additional aim is to research the potentials and restrictions at the use of multipurpose plantations of fast growing trees under different conditions, like the sort of the used secondary nutrient source (type of residue), mass input rate, substrate sort and sort of the species/clone. Testing of the different plant species from the Salicaceae family will enable the determination of the most appropriate species concerning their bioaccumulation and tolerance capacities for the specific pollutants. The tasks set will be implemented on concrete locations, and their results will be directly applied in real cases. The results could be used on the further rehabilitation of the landfill sites, or for specific pollutants (wood industry), as well as at the solving of the municipal wastewater treatment problem and sludge from the treatment plants.
Significance for science
Many countries will not be able to meet increasing water demands using freshwater and are therefore developing non-conventional wastewater reuse strategies to meet future demands under the Integrated water resources management programmes. In other regions, there are sufficient freshwater sources and there is no urgent need for irrigation, however they confront with big amounts of wastewaters and other waste products, for which sustainable ways of their treatment are being in a constant search. Also here, the non-conventional wastewater treatment methods and solutions are emerging in the form of their reuse for cultivation of plants, which are not meant for human consumption (for trees along roads, greenbelts in cities, woody production systems, ..). For this purpose guidelines for safe and direct reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural purposes are needed, new knowledge on suitable species adapted to local soil and climate characteristics and knowledge on the quantity and quality of wastewater supply. Before the beginning of its use on a bigger scale the potential benefits and consequences of using these species and waters are needed. Accomplished research therefore represents a contribution in the formation of the recommendations concerning the selection of plant material, soil substrate, quantity and quality of water, which can be used, and irrigation management praxis with the final goal of maximizing the potential of woody biomass production, improvement of water quality (contribution of phytoremediation to wastewater treatment, reduction of direct wastewater outflow into the environment), as well as increasing biodiversity and reduction of application of mineral fertilizers. The research is therefore a contribution to the development of phytotechnologies, resource production and water quality improvement.
Significance for the country
The landfill site managers are still looking for financially efficient and simple solutions for leachate treatment. Similar needs can be found in other sectors with wastewater or sludges as final side products of production. The other side represents the orientation towards the production and use of biomass as alternative energy source. Here, new demands are opening to supply suitable biomass as input raw material for these processes and the ways of suitable management of remaining wastewater and biomass in the end of processes. Among the main national priorities we can find reduction of CO2 emissions, use of renewable energy sources and increase in reuse of waste sources. All listed areas were met in the performed research. The topic of the research were wastewaters with high content of plant nutrients. Proper reuse of such wastewaters can offer alternative, financially accessible way of wastewater treatment, biomass cultivation for various application, as well as a contribution towards reduction of CO2 emissions. The results offer for example a new information for improved accomplishment of sustainable rehabilitation of landfill sites with leachate recycling on closed landfill surface. The results offer basic information in case of reuse of other sources of wastewaters like compost production wastewater, remains from the production of biogas, municipal wastewater and sludge from municipal wastewater treatment pants, etc. With produced woody biomass and its use in energy purposes, part of the wastewater treatment costs can be covered. The research results offer to the final users additional knowledge in the field of sustainable wastewater treatment solutions in terms of protection of surface and subsurface fresh waters, prevention of uncontrolled transport of toxic compounds into food web chain and possibility of production of alternative energy sources for own needs, which represents a reduction of overall treatment costs. From the environmental point of view the proposed solution offers elimination of nutrients (N, P, K, …) and heavy metals as well as creation of new habitat with increase in biodiversity, wind and erosion reduction as well as CO2 sequestration. The research results contribute to the development in the field of co-natural wastewater treatment technologies, cultivation of fast-growing woody plants and production of biomass as renewable energy source.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2008, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2008, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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