ELDE completed: New technologies for industrial wastewater treatment and reuse

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The Environmental Engineering (ENMA), group, which is a member of the Institute of Textile Research and Industrial Cooperation of Terrassa (INTEXTER), has coordinated ELDE, a project focused on the treatment of industrial effluents through technologies driven by electricity: electro-oxidation (EO), electrocoagulation (EC), addition of electrogenerated oxidants (EG) and electrodialysis (ED). To carry out the project, three industrial sectors were selected that are considered the most polluting: paper, chemical and tanning. The most problematic factor in wastewaters from these industries is the high organic load and presence of compounds that are not biodegradable.

For effluents from the chemical and tanning sectors, a flexible pilot (20 L/h) was constructed based on a combination of EO and EC techniques. This combination of techniques enabled a reduction of up to 70% in the organic content of the effluents, and fully eliminated the colour and turbidity. These technologies could also be applied to other industrial sectors.

In addition, an EC was constructed to treat 1 m3/h and was installed in a paper manufacturing company. The system is equipped with an efficient power source developed by the MCIA centre and solar panels to reduce the energy consumption of the treatment by between 60 and 100%, depending on the conductivity of the effluent. With the EC treatment, the organic matter was reduced by 25%, to obtain a treated effluent that could be reused in new production processes.

Finally, the environmental impact of using the selected electropurification techniques was assessed. In all cases, the carbon footprint was reduced by over 80% compared to the treatments that are currently in use.

The ELDE (Electrodepuration of industrial wastewater: technical, environmental and economic viability) project was co-funded by the EU European Regional Development Funds as part of the ERDF Operational Programme for Catalonia 2014–2020 with a budget of 1.7 million euros. Other participants in the project were the Motion Control and Industrial Applications (MCIA) for the UPC, and the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC), Eurecat and the SMEs Waterlogies, CIM Aigua and Lavola.

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