Implementation and scaling up of circular innovative technological solutions for water management

Project Ô implements new technologies and solutions for water treatment. These innovative technologies are diverse in their scope, but they all  provide high energy efficiency and low operational costs, compared to competing solutions for the same type of treatment. This will be possible through the adoption of a modular approach, which optimizes the treatment and management of a given quantity of water at the maximum energy efficiency level as possible. 

What is it in a nutshell that this technology does for us?


The module, called ADV.ERT, is an advanced tertiary treatment mobile plant that integrates two functions: a desalinator and an advanced oxidation process (AOP) for addressing microbial contamination, and other remedial activities. The selected train of technologies to be trialled in Puglia will be composed by Nanofiltration and HiNaPEF. The HiNaPEF has proven highly effective in the disinfection of water and in the mineralization of toxic organic pollutants, making it the most fitting technology for the elimination of microbial contamination and degradation of pesticides and pharmaceuticals.


ADV.ERT pilot module for water treatment will be installed at demonstration site 1 and it will treat 20m3/day. The module is targeted to serve water wells for local use, with contained costs. Impact is reached through replication of such small modules, which can be easily moved around to supply clean water where required or duplicated to be easily installed at different locations.

The ADV.ERT module will include the following water-treatment technologies:


High Voltage Nano-Second Pulsed Electric Field (advanced oxidation process) (IRIS srl)


  • New Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP)
  • Similar to Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) technology, but based on low frequency, high voltage nano-pulses
  • Fully patented
  • It is a stabilization process of water
  • It delivers effective reduction of all microorganisms: abatement > 99%
  • It can be configured to treat non biodegradable organic pollutants including emerging contaminants and recalcitrant organic pollutants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dyes

Unique Selling Points of HiNaPEF:


  • Low electric energy consumption: 0,01 kWh/m3, excluding the efficiency of the pulse generator (-30% vs existing PEF technologies)
  • Fully customizable according to the characteristics of the effluent
  • Suitable for Point-of-Use (POU) application
  • No harmful by-products
  • No consumables, no additional chemicals
  • No heating of the treated liquid
  • The low energy requirements of HiNaPEF allow for the use of solar energy supply
  • The device is compact and portable, ideal for the Project Ô’s punctual treatment of water


Nanofiltration (desalination), membrane distillation (Aalborg University)


  • No chemical treatment
  • No thermal input, energy efficient
  • Efficient to remove micropollutants and valence ions
  • Easy to operate

Main advantages of the ADV.ERT solution at Demo-site 1 (Pozzo Guardati, Lecce, Italy): 

  • The water source is located very close to the users and it is connected to the main drinking water network of the City of Lecce and to the nearby industrial area
  • The solution proposed addresses the main pollution issues identified and consists in the application of a compact water treatment module directly at the source of water
  • The ADV.ERT module allows the sustainable recovery of an unexploited resource thanks to its low investment and operational cost and its low environmental impact
  • The solution is suitable to treat water that is variable in composition, this characteristic makes it also suitable for replication
  • The water from Pozzo Guardati can be a useful emergency source of drinking water when needed


The added value of the SALTECH treatment module consists in recovering nutrients which can be reused in agriculture and aquaculture, specifically, biomass produced can be used for energy, as fish food, or processed to extract nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus that can be used as a green fertiliser, limited by salt content.


The SALTECH treatment module will include the following train of technologies:


Capacitive Deionization (Nanoquimia)


CDI is a technology designed to eliminate inorganic ions and charged molecules in general from water streams. The technology is based on the electrical double layer capacitor (EDLC) where an ionic double layer is formed onto a charged surface immersed in an electrolyte solution when an electric potential is applied. If the active material has a high surface area (like nanoporous carbon materials), the ion storage capacity can be very large which can be used to adsorb ions and charged molecules from water in an efficient way. The main goal in the train is to remove nitrates and phosphates from the fish ponds and recover them for agricultural purposes.


Microwave Enhanced Catalytic Degradation (Nanoquimia)


MECD is a technology based on several phenomena that take place when certain materials are radiated with microwaves (MW). The combination of MW irradiation with special carbon materials allows for a rapid and cost effective elimination of very refractory pollutants from water streams. The main goal of this technology in SALTECH is to destroy organic pollutants previous to the MD and CDI units.


Membrane Distillation and Filtration System (Aalborg Universty)


The advantages of the membrane distillation and filtration system is that:


  • High saline water can be treated.
  • Distilled water can be produced from the permeate.
  • The pollutants and minerals can be recovered from the feed.
  • Easy to operate.


The water treatment module MOBILE3TECH is a mobile plant integrating 3 technologies, including advanced oxidation technologies (AOPs). The combination of the 3 processes will allow 1) degradation of toxic organic pollutants; and 2) fine treatment of wastewater, acting as a tertiary process. The module configuration will be adjustable depending on the characteristics of the input water thanks to the advanced control unit (AC) capable of performing timely measurements of bacterial stress, determining the toxicity of the organic pollutants in wastewater thus assessing if the wastewater can be treated directly in the WWTP or needs an additional treatment based on advanced oxidation. To allow detection, suitable sensors will be integrated in the system.

The module includes the following train of technologies:


Solar photo-FENTON (Universitat Politècnica de València) 


It uses uses solar light, so it is particularly fitting for a mobile treatment unit. The advantages of Solar photo-Fenton include:


  • Generation of highly reactive species, hydroxly radical
  • The hydroxyl radical is non selective and able to oxidize and mineralize organic molecules
  • Increase biodegrability and decrease toxicity of the treated effluent = possibility to be used as a pre-treatment followed by biological post-treatment disinfection of biologically treated effluents in WWTP
  • Regeneration of the activated carbon saturated


Advanced Adsorption (CNRS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique )


This technology is tuneable for treating variable loads of pollutants and has the advantage of promoting the regeneration of the carbon adsorbent (as opposed to conventional technologies that require off-site regeneration practices).


Unique Selling Points:


  • Performance of the carbons may be affected upon consecutive cycles (partial oxidation, pH, uptake) due to accumulation of intermediates
  • Co-adsorption of micropollutants and derivatives: lower kinetics but possibility of regeneration of the carbon


Advanced Control System (Technion)


The Advanced Control System integrates the Advanced Absorption and Solar Photo Fenton technologies. It performs measurements of bacterial stress, determining the toxicity of the organic pollutants in the water thus assessing if the used water can be treated directly in the WWTP or needs an additional treatment based on advanced oxidation processes, and activates a close loop control system.


Advantages of introducing this treatment:


  • Possibility to treat spills with a suitable system before circulating the water through the usual WWTP process, protecting the biological system of the plant.
  • Possibility to implement a low-cost system, compatible with the existing facility.
  • Possibility to timely decide (by means of the advanced control unit) whether water should be submitted to the usual treatment at the WWTP, or alternatively go through the Mobile3Tech additional treatment.
  • Treatment for emerging pollutants if no spill is detected, according to specific demands of the site: usual treatment may now be improved, Mobile3Tech acting as a tertiary treatment.
  • Production of high quality water for reuse in an environment where droughts are frequent.


The PHOTO.CAT module is easy to retrofit and scale up even starting from an existing installation, because of its modular concept. This is also a commercial advantage as users can start with a smaller unit and scale it up gradually spreading the investment cost and following the growth of their operations. Whenever is possible, the PHOTO.CAT unit exploits sun light to operate, thereby decreasing the electrical energy needs per cubic meter treated of over 50% with respect the electrochemical oxidation unit. This modular photocatalytic unit can be easily deployed for the point of delivery purification of waters in remote and off grid environments.

Unique selling points:


  • Mineralization of non biodegradable/toxic organic compounds, with no harmful byproducts
  • Concurrent disinfection
  • Solar light powered with low power LED backup source (24/7 continuous operations)
  • No Chemicals / environmental friendly chemicals (air oxygen as oxidant, integration of a gas permeable membrane in each unit for aeration, possibility of use of environmental friendly strong oxidants like hydrogen peroxide or persulfate)
  • Modular/reconfigurable
  • Ongoing Patent application on unique characteristics
  • Suitable for point of use application


A module of submodules:


The PHOTO.CAT module is made from submodules and the topology or the water flow can be easily reconfigured (submodule in series for high pollutant loads and low flow rates, submodules in parallel for low pollutant loads and high flow rates). The proprietary supported photocatalyst on silicate honeycombs will allow optimization of the catalyst for the target pollutants, minimise the mass transfer resistances with a properly designed fluid dynamic and maximise light harvesting. The backup UVLED source will be controlled by the incident solar radiation, in order to maintain UV fluence at the optimum level for the photocatalyst. The PHOTO.CAT module will substitute entirely the electrochemical oxidation unit treating the full 45 cubic meters of water required.