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Intensive treatment of waste effluents and conversion into useful sustainable outputs: biogas, nutrients and water


Landfill leachate and the liquid from the digestate of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste are considered as wastewater. They must therefore be treated prior to discharge or reclamation. The organic matter and ammonium that they contain can potentially be removed and reused, to create a circular economy around these waste streams.



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LIFE INFUSION aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a circular economy approach to treating the liquid digestate from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste and landfill leachate. The project aims to recover resources for use as energy, bio-fertilisers and water for irrigation. They will demonstrate the technology in two municipal solid waste treatment plants in Spain (Barcelona and Gijon). It is expected to reduce social, economic and environmental impacts. The economic impact will be reduced by using the heat surplus at the sites for co-generation, regenerating membranes, and skipping the composting step. The environmental impact will be reduced by producing renewable energy (biomethane), recovering bio-fertilisers (sludge and ammonium salts), using regenerated membranes, and using treated water for irrigation in water-scarce areas.


The main expected result is to obtain resources from the treatment of landfill leachate and the liquid fraction of the digestate created from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste. The project will help implement the circular economy in the field of wastewater, and help wastewater treatment facilities comply with the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive and regulations of water reuse.

Specific expected results and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • Reduction of the environmental impact of effluents generated in municipal solid waste treatment facilities (KPI: 20% reduction)

  • Alleviation of water scarcity by obtaining reclaimed water suitable for irrigation (KPI: fulfil RD 1620/2007)

  • Increase of freshwater availability at local level (KPI: 912 m³/yr or 0.4 m³ water/m³ wastewater treated)

  • Production of bio-based fertilising products for the supply of nutrients and organic carbon (KPI: 1.1 t ammonium nitrate/sulphate (dry)/yr and 1.3 t dry stabilised organic matter/yr)

  • Production of purified biomethane as energy supply (KPI: 87,000 m³ CH4/yr or 0.83 m³ biomethane/m³ treated biogas)

  • Treatment scheme to obtain reclaimed water, recover biogas and bio-based fertilisers (KPI: 0.4m³ raw wastewater/m³ treated wastewater, 24 kg (NH4)2SO4/m³ treated wastewater and 6 m³ biomethane/m³ treated wastewater)

  • Operation of anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) at thermophilic conditions and at high nitrogen concentration (KPI: COD removal >75%)

  • Recovery of a bio-based fertiliser by using stripping and membrane contactors to select the most suitable scheme (KPI: 50-90% recovered nitrogen)

  • Raw wastewater using regenerated end-of-life reverse osmosis (RO) membranes (KPI: >80% water recovery, water quality fulfilling RD 1620/2007)

  • Two field tests of the agronomic value of the obtained fertilisers and raw wastewater

  • High purity biomethane (>90%) from biogas with ABAD BIOENERGY

  • Reduction of 20% in overall operation and maintenance costs of the treatment of waste effluents

  • Enhancement of the chances of economic development of the agronomic sector as a result of an increase on water/nutrient availability for irrigation/fertilisation

  • Increase of EU citizen awareness of environmental and socio-economic impacts related to resource recovery from waste effluents

  • Two successful cases of implementation (Barcelona and Gijon) of market-ready solutions to boost the replication in other regions and sectors

  • Elaboration of marketing, business and commercial activities, and Roadmap to support the market uptake of recovered bio-fertilisers




Project funded by the European Commission under the Life programme

LIFE19 ENV/ES/000283

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