Micropollutants removal by microalgae and nanoparticles

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To date, processes aimed at an extensive removal of micropollutants are very expensive and therefore imply a significant increase in wastewater treatment (WWT) costs.
It is proposed to experiment the integrated use of microalgae and nanoparticles produced from microalgae themselves to improve the performance of the WWT plants in terms of the removal of emerging micropollutants and metals, as well as for a more effective abatement of nitrogen.

Planned activities within PerFORM WATER 2030

The experimental activities regarding watewater treatment and emerging micropollutants removal using microalgae and nanoparticles are part of the Water included in PerFORM WATER 2030.
The project focuses on the insertion of algal cultures in the WWT cycle and on the use of the algal biomass obtained for the production of zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI) encapsulated in carbon by hydrothermal carbonization (HTC). The encapsulated nZVIs function both as an adsorbent and as a reducing agent and therefore operate by degrading some organic molecules and by reducing metals which, in some cases, can then be removed by precipitation.

Objectives and expected results

  • To develop a process chain to be integrated in the conventional WWT cycle for the removal of organic and metal micropollutants.

  • To improve nutrient removal efficiency with a low-cost biological system.

  • To produce algal biomass to be used as raw material for the production of nanoparticles to remove organic micropollutants and metals or to be used for other uses such as anaerobic digestion with biogas production or soil improver for agricultural soils

Description of the activities

  • Installation and operation of a pilot plant for algal biomass growth.

  • Development of the nanoparticle production process and their characterization.

  • Laboratory-scale evaluation of particle efficiency in the removal of two organic micropollutants and some heavy metals on model solutions and on real effluents.

Pilot site

The pilot plant is installed at Bresso WWTP (Wastewater treatment plant) operated by CAP Group and laboratory activities are being carried out at Dipartimento DISAT-AMB of Università degli Studi di Milano - Bicocca.
For further information, please refer to the specific web-page dedicated to demonstration sites of PerFORM WATER 2030.

Partners involved

SEAM engineering has built the pilot plant for growing algae, after the project from DICA-AMB Department of Politecnico di Milano, which is also responsible for the operation of the microalgae pilot plant.
The microalgae pilot plant will also exploit the CO2 produced by the upgrading of biogas by means of the chemical process developed by MATER Department of Università degli Studi di Milano - Bicocca (see for further information).
DISAT-AMB Department of Università degli Studi di Milano - Bicocca is responsible for the production of nanoparticles and for lab-scale testing.

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