• The initiative, promoted by the consortium led by FACSA and of which IPROMA, AINIA, ESAMUR and CEBAS-CSIC are also part, presents its conclusions with a conference in Murcia.
  • In addition to approaching 'zero waste', the project helps to promote a circular economy model in the management of sludge and slurry to convert waste into resources.
The European research project LIFE STO3RE, led by FACSA and integrated by the Sanitation and Wastewater Treatment Entity of the Region of Murcia (ESAMUR), the AINIA technology center, the CEBAS belonging to the CEBAS-CSIC Higher Scientific Research Council, and the IPROMA laboratory has officially ended after almost four years of research.

The initiative, which was launched in September 2015, has validated a joint management model of sewage sludge and slurry in a pilot way in the WWTP of Totana (Murcia). Through the combination of different technologies that integrate physical-chemical and biological processes, it has been possible to eliminate the organic and pathogenic microcontaminants present in sludge and slurry and, at the same time, obtain reusable biogas as an energy source, as well as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus for its use in agricultural holdings in the area.

In figures, the application of this technology on an industrial scale would enable the generation of an odorless biofertilizer in sufficient quantity to cover the needs of 1,700 hectares of crops per year and recycle about 300 tons of nitrogen, 80 of potassium and 70 of phosphorus.

ESAMUR, as the entity responsible for the treatment and reuse of wastewater in the Region of Murcia, has supported during recent years for R&D+I as a tool to develop cutting-edge technologies to reduce the environmental impact of the treatment of wastewater and, at the same time, contribute to the reuse of resources.

Among other advances, Elena Zuriaga, FACSA R&D manager and project coordinator, has advanced that "the results of the research we have developed during these years allow us to conclude that, with the STO3RE technology, it is possible to increase 30 to 40% of the biogas production", on the other hand, the head of the chromatography laboratory of IPROMA, José Luís Aranda, concludes that it is possible to reduce the content of organic micro-pollutants present in the sludges and slurry treated with the technology, as well as that of the pathogenic microorganisms present in the obtained biofertilizer ".

"A very important advantage of the STO3RE technology is that it eliminates the unpleasant smell of sludge and slurry, which improves social acceptance and facilitates its industrial implementation" explained the project manager of AINIA, Jose B. Carbajo.

The CEBAS-CSIC researcher Carlos García pointed out that "today's society needs to ensure the generation of healthy food in a sustainable manner and, given that biofertilizers are capable of increasing the fertility of the soil where they are added, they are a key to the agriculture of the future".

The proposed technology allows, among other benefits, to reduce CO2 emissions and obtain a renewable energy source such as biogas, which in turn makes the process energy-efficient and closer to the goal of 'zero waste'.

Representatives of the different entities that make up the initiative have met in Murcia to participate in a conference in which they have analyzed the latest trends and innovations linked to both the anaerobic digestion of sludge and slurry, and the management of sludge produced in small and medium-sized sewage treatment plants (WWTP).

The workshop, which was held at the headquarters in Murcia of the Center for Edaphology and Applied Biology of Segura, belonging to the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CEBAS-CSIC) had as guests speakers: Garbiñe Manterola (CEIT-IK4), John Chamberlain (Naturgy), Carlos Rubio (Cadagua), as well as Pedro Fernández Molina, of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Region of Murcia.