Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

Development of new technologies for separation and treatment of black and grey water

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, zero footprint, nutrient cycling, sanitation, water treatment, composting, water separation at source, blackwater, greywater, health risk assessment, public health
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (21)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  32425  PhD Polonca Brglez  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013 - 2016  24 
2.  24416  PhD Klemen Eler  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013  289 
3.  22778  MSc Nevenka Ferfila  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013 - 2015  137 
4.  05099  PhD Karmen Godič Torkar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2013 - 2014  256 
5.  19262  Svetlana Gogič Knežić    Technician  2014 - 2016 
6.  11790  PhD Tjaša Griessler Bulc  Natural sciences and mathematics  Principal Researcher  2013 - 2016  498 
7.  08340  PhD Andrej Holobar  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013 - 2016  77 
8.  17775  Rozalija Ilc    Technician  2014 - 2016  21 
9.  34903  Klara Jarni  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013 - 2015  52 
10.  03540  PhD Boris Kompare  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2014  865 
11.  26067  PhD Aleksandra Krivograd Klemenčič  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013 - 2016  300 
12.  13073  PhD Rok Mihelič  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2013 - 2016  452 
13.  31152  PhD Martina Oder  Medical sciences  Researcher  2013  138 
14.  38808  Nada Pintar  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2016 
15.  08185  MSc Tomaž Prus  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2014 - 2016  350 
16.  14056  PhD Marjetka Suhadolc  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2013 - 2016  244 
17.  17780  Viljem Šijanec    Technician  2014 - 2016 
18.  19261  Irena Tič    Technician  2014 - 2016  239 
19.  24341  PhD Matej Uršič  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2016  68 
20.  37852  Vesna Vidmar    Technician  2016 
21.  36714  Miha Žitnik  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2014 - 2016  33 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0382  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences  LJUBLJANA  1627155  14,113 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  64,967 
3.  0792  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering  Ljubljana  1626981  26,021 
4.  6534  ECHO razvojno tehnološki inženiring, d.o.o. (Slovene)  Slovenske konjice  5451108  196 
Project background Currently, municipal wastewater treatment is treated as a mixture of wastewater from toilets, kitchens and bathrooms in a central wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) without closing material flows. Treated water is discharged into water bodies without reuse. Organic substances that prevail in the municipal wastewater, are decomposed in the conventional WWTP to nitrogen and phosphorus causing eutrophication of water bodies and irreversibly deposit of phosphorus in sediments of stagnant waters. Increasing urbanization and growing pressure on water supply and food production is leading to the development of technologies with black, gray and yellowwater separation to enable water reuse and to obtain new fertilizer for food production. Objectives In the frame of the project proposed, an innovative, compact system for the separate treatment of sanitary wastewaters will be developed, where treated greywater (water from sinks) will be re-used for flushing toilets, while blackwater (faeces + urine) will be used as a fertilizer for agricultural land. This reduces consumption of valuable drinking water for flushing toilets, allows reuse of water, return nutrients to the soil and mitigate water bodies pollution. New system will function according to closed material flow, cradle-to-cradle and zero foot-print principles and the principle that faeces and urine are not useless waste but a valuable material source. Originality of the results The results of the proposed project demonstrate a high degree of scientific relevance as we will try to answer a number of key issues that the scientific community does not yet have, because research involving separate treatment of toilets is still partial, and does not include the aspects of the reuse of gray and blackwater and health perspective. In the project we will go beyond the level of development of most new sanitation technologies which are primarily focused on reducing the negative impacts of municipal wastewater on the environment. Methodology and feasibility of the project In the first phase of the project each module of the treatment system will be developed separately;  Blackwater module, Compost module and Greywater module. Blackwater module will include separation of liquid and solid phase of the blackwater using filtration through different mechanical and organic filters and treatment of liquid phase of the blackwater by evaporation through solar evaporator and cascade dryer by using energy from solar collectors. Compost module will include composting of solid phase of the blackwater in order to achieve high quality hygienised compost. Greywater module will include collection and treatment of the greywater in a constructed wetland. In the second phase of the project newly developed modules will be integrated into a single compact sanitary system by taking into account health aspect. The advantage of the project is its high feasibility, since the experimental sanitary system with all necessary equipment had already been set. Relevance and potential impact of the results On the national level the project will contribute to the promotion of National action plan for implementation of the cradle to cradle principle, which aims to establish closed material flow economy and to support innovative environmental concepts in Slovenia and to development of a new paradigm on integrated approach in development of innovative solutions on the field of ecological and sanitary engineering, especially in the conversion of waste into a useful market source and in changing attitudes to its re-use. Projects added value will be also changing the awareness at all levels of the importance of material-efficient societies and promoting innovative environmental concepts in Slovenia, which is possible through the dissemination of project results and new obtained knowledge.
Significance for science
Project results show a high level of scientific relevance, since the project answered many key issues that was not resoved till now. The project covers fields of water supply, wastewater treatment, agriculture, composting, public health, energy, quality of water resources, sustainable development and combines ecological and sanitary engineering, agronomy, public health in relation to chemistry, biology and microbiology - through closing material flows and cradle to cradle concepts.In the project new scientific knowledge was obtained, since the studies on separation and treatment of sanitary wastewater are individual, unsystematic and till now did not include greywater (water from sinks) re-use and production of compost from blackwater (faeces+urin) and health aspect. Project exceed the level of development of most new sanitation technologies that are designed to reduce the negative impacts of municipal wastewater on the environment, but rarely include the aspect of closing material flows, use of end products and the health aspect. Project contributed in creation of new developmental directions, such as urban agriculture; adaptive, resilience, green cities; ecosystem services; circular economy; etc. Project work contributed to the development of fields: 1. Ecological and sanitary engineering • Hydraulic research and research on different organic and structural media led to development of new technologies for separation and treatment of blackwater and composting • Obtaining key findings on black and greywater specific properties in comparison with municipal WW and the associated challenges • Development of new technologies of black and greywater treatment • Introducing the concept of closing material flows into Slovenian and international research sphere 2. Microbiology • Obtaining new knowledge on hygiene through the interdependence of degradation processes and routes of pathogen microorganisms 3. Chemical analytics • Development of new analytical and measurement methods and techniques for monitoring (identification) of key degradation parameters with possibility of feedback control to assure optimal conditions and efficiency of the treatment system, development of simple analysis techniques 4. Agronomy • Development of new aspects of production and safe use of compost, returning nutrients to the fields, new possibilities for further use of compost, methane, urine, safe food • Development of new possibilities for phosphorous recovery and reduce the risk of exploitation of its natural reserves 5. Biology • Selection of plants for phytoremediation, phytoextraction, evapotranspiration and biomass, impact of salinisation on selected plant species 6. Public health • Development of new technologies and devices for water disinfection and compost hygienization • New aspects of closing material flows impact on human health
Significance for the country
Research results contribute to promote National Action Plan and zero waste concept on national level for establishment of economy of closing material flows, therefore it contributes to the priority areas S4 Networks for transition to the circular economy. It encourages development of innovative solutions by transforming of waste into useful and safe material or energy source. The research addresses the field of environmental, ecological and sanitary engineering, in particular, when we are changing attitudes to use of e.g. human excreta. The research will contribute to the promotion of the concept of material-efficient societies at international level and to the transition of Slovenia into the low-carbon society. The usage of green technologies will strengthen existing alliances with foreign partners. The projects' results have a direct impact on the economy. In the project's frame Echo Ltd. has developed and upgraded the system for measuring degradation rates of wastewater (WW), treated with algae, which promotes, together with other products, at the world's leading trade fairs in this area (e.g. Achema, Analytica China) and successfully markets all over the world: Korea, Hong Hong, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Israel, Italy, America. On this basis, the extension of the company it is expected in 1-3 years by new employment. Cooperation with Algen Ltd. resulted in joint project applications within H2020, Life + with approved 3 projects: H2020 Saltgae (http://saltgae.eu) H2020 Water2Return and Life + ALGAECAN. Results of the project will have direct impact on the wider society in the field of drinking water supply, municipal WW treatment, biological waste processing and agriculture at several levels: 1. public companies for water supply and sewerage, bio-waste treatment 2. agricultural sector 3. people supplied, tourists 4. wider society and nature (a promotion of National action plan for implementation of cradle to cradle principles (www.odzibkedozibke.si), material-efficient societies at international level (www.c2cn.eu) and transition of Slovenia to a low carbon society. We expect following indirect effects: • Reduced drinking water consumption and efficient WW use (reduced water consumption for flushing toilets: greywater re-use + vacuum toilets ), which is particularly important in areas with limited water supply • Reduced negative impact of municipal WW on the environment • Reduced negative impact of unsuitable toilets on human health due to insufficient treatment and disposal of WW in areas with no possible connection to public sewerage • Reduced energy consumption and traffic for operation and maintenance of toilets in remote and hardly accessible areas such as mountain cottages • Reduced consumption of mineral fertilizers in agriculture (due to phosphorus and nitrogen recovery from faeces (compost) and urine back to the fields taking into account health aspect) • Education and environmental awareness of wider society on closing material flows and C2C concept (at demo facility operating on non-waste principle) • Contribution towards changes from linear society to circular and processing society. The project ensures fulfilment of the posed social objectives in line with national legislation (Official gazette for sewage effluents from small WW treatment plants, Ur.l.RS 98/2007) and EU legislation with strong focus on promotion of sustainable technologies and renewable energy (Directive 2001/77/EC), sustainable water use (Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC), waste separation and re-use (Waste Directive 2006/12/EC). The project is also in accordance with Community strategic guidelines for rural development (2006/144/EC), Common Agricultural Policy (CAP, 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/).
Most important scientific results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2013, 2014, 2015, final report
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