Researchers in Eureka project 2962 Euroenviron Biosorb-Tox have developed a treatment system for water polluted with industrial oil, which they say operates at one tenth of the cost of commercially available treatments, and leaves water so clean it can be pumped back out to sea with no danger to flora or fauna.
Currently, the most complete method of treating water polluted with petrochemicals involves three stages involving physicochemical and biological processes, with the final stage requiring a combination of bioreactor, chemical coagulation, granulated activated carbon or sorption technologies.
This tertiary stage is the most expensive part of the treatment, can cause fouling and leaves a toxic sludge which must be disposed of subsequently.
Viktoras Racys at the Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania, the main project partner, had already developed and tested a new wastewater treatment model on a laboratory scale. “In order to apply our water treatment to large industrial practices we needed financial assistance from external sources. The Eureka partnership helped in doing this,” says Racys.
The new method combines the three processes in a single reactor. The project partners are the Environmental Chemistry Department of the University of Umeaa in Sweden developed methods for identifying and assessing pollutants, a Swedish company, Exposmeter, which developed an in-line sampling and monitoring tool to measure the system’s efficiency in treating toxic compounds, Dinaitas, a Lithuanian company was responsible for the design, manufacture and installation of the reactor.
The system is up and running, treating wastewater at Lithuanian oil company, Nasta. Racys says, “We couldn’t believe the results the first time. It has a high capacity, processing 160 m3 per hour. The cost is Euro 1 for every 3.5 litres. Effectively it’s 10 or 20 times better than what else is available.”
He adds, “The water before the treatment is highly polluted, containing 1 gram of pollutant per litre. After treatment it contains only 0.1 gram of pollutant per litre. This surpasses the EU standards and the water can be put straight back into the sea.”
The system has been in operation for two years but Racys thinks the reactor can be improved. He wants like to take the work further forward at an industrial level and is looking for new industrial partners.