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Sewage treatment

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Basic Information

  • UniversityUniversidad de Valladolid
  • Center
  • DepartmentChemical Engineering and Environmental Technology
  • Investigation GroupEnvironmental technology


MICROBIOLOGICAL PROCESSAL STUDY OF THE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN NITRIFICATION-DENITRIFICATION AND BIOLOGICAL PHOSPHOROUS REACTION IN SEWAGE TREATMENT. - Main researchers: Pedro García Encina - PhD student: Elisa Rodríguez Rodríguez - The evolution of legislation and the increase in the knowledge of the processes involved in the sewage treatment have modified the objective to be reached in the sewage treatment plants. Actually, a big part of this plants include nitrogen (nitrification and denitrification) and enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR). The combination of these processes results in the coexistence of several microorganisms whose optimum operative conditions are extremely different. For this reason, it is necessary to reach a state of balance. Besides, the enhanced biological phosphorus removal is a non-stationary process and is strongly influenced by the nitrification and denitrification processes. In this context, biological phosphorus removal has become one of the most important processes, but little is known of the microbian groups participating in these reactions. For this reason, not only the study of the operational parameters’ influence is essential to achieve a successful removal of phosphates and nitrogen in sewage treatment plants, but also the study of the microbial communities involved in these processes. ANAEROBIC MICROBRIAL DETERIORATION OF SURFACTANTS - Main researchers: Alfons Stams; Pedro García Encina - PhD student: Ana Paulo - The regular surfactants used constitute a diverse group of chemical products designed for cleaning and solubilization purposes. These are the main ingredients in domestic and industrial detergents. They are also used in personal hygene products and pesticide formulations. After its use, surfactants may be founf together with other pollutants in sewage treatment plants. They can also be unloaded into aqatic environment. The removal of sewage surfactants is a microbial process, which has several advantages compared to non-biological techniques. Surfactant biodegradation in the presence of oxygen is feasible and subject to many studies. However, environments in which molecular oxugen is absent or present in low concentrations are very common in nature. Anoxic environments can be found in anaerobic digesters, cesspools, organically enriched sediments, flooded grounds and rubbish dumps. Surfactants an be used as a carbon and energy source through bacteria where nitrate is present as electron acceptor, if the oxygen is limited or unavailable. Through the process of denitrification, unwanted nitrate accumulation can be avoided both in EDAR and the environment, due to its N2 reduction. Surfactants are used as a carbon source, thus being oxidized to CO2 and H2O (Figure 1). - ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION OF PHARMACEUTICAL AND PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS (PPCP) - Main researchers: Rubén Irusta Mata y Pedro García Encina - PhD student Sheyla A. Ortiz de García - Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) are extensively and increasingly used in human and animal medicine. Some of them have been identified as an emergent kind of potential pollutants for the aquatic environment. An extensive published literature recognized as one of the emergent questions in the different ambiental study areas. Despite these efforts, the adverse effects of many PPCPs and their metabolites are still unknown. Some authors have studied its harmful nature in detail: Endocrine disruptions, persistence, toxicity or problematic bioaccumulation. This project therefore considers some of these compounds, some of them recently synthesized or with a bigger prescription, consumption and presence in aquatic environment. - STUDY OF THE PROCESS TO MINIMIZE SLUDGE PRODUCTION, RECOVER THE NUTRIENTS AND OPTIMIZE ENERGY CONSUMPTION IN SEWAGE TREATMENT. - Main researcher: María Fdz.-Polanco - Other researcher: Lara Pelaz - The anaerobic sewage treatment process is characterized by its efficiency, since it allows the production of methane -and therefore, energy- through the organic matter present in sewage. However, this process isn’t capable of removing some kind of nutrients such as N or P. While P cannot be removed due to chemical precipitation, nitrogen removal is more difficult on economically viable terms. The main objective of the projecr is to remove nitrogen through conventional nitrification-denitrification processes using a SBR reactor. A sequencing batch reactor is chosen due to its advantages, such as flexibility, stability, high performance and its ability to soften loads and big flows. Due to its operative flexibility, requirements for oxygen removal can be introduced in nitrogen removal, which involve a sequence of the aerobic and anoxic phases within the operative cycle. This generates the required conditions for the development of processes such as nitrification and denitrification. The system consists of two peristaltic pumps, a compressor and a mechanical agitation system, being all of them accurately timed. During the nitrification phase, nitrogen goes through a series of reactions to its most oxidized form. During denitrification, nitrogen is reduced to its gaseous state (N2). -

Other information

Number of researchers:


Development status:

In research and development phase

Differentiation in the market:


Applicability of technology:


Companies and markets:

• Gas treatment: Gas Natural Fenosa S.A., JSF Hidráulica • Treatment and recovery of solid waste: URBASER, Biogas Fuel Cell. S.A., 1A consultants • Sewage treatment: Elecnor, Socamex, CADAGUA, Suez Environment, Heineken España, Befesa • Pre-treatments: MAXAMCORP HOLDING S.L


• Chemical analysis lab - Equipment for water, waste and gas characterization. - pH determination, Chemical oxygen demand (in Spanish, DQO) solids, nitrogen, phosphorus, extractives, lignin... • Instrumental analysis lab - Gas chromatographs with MS-Thermal desorption detectors, FID, TCD, ECD... - Liquid chromatographs with IC-UV detectors, IR-Diode, - Luminometer, - Spectrophotometer, - Fluorometer, - TOC/TN analyzer, - Size particle analyzer, - Espirometers, - FTIR, - Specific H2S and gas NH3 sensors. • Molecular biology lab - Electrophoresis equipment, - Southern-blot equipment, - Thermal cycler (PCR and real time PCR module) + software, - Bead-beter equipment with cellular disruption, - Kits for DNA/RNA extraction and purification (lineal and plasmid), - Electrophoresis gases display equipment + software, - Epifluorescence microscope + camera + software, - Hybridization ovens, freezers (-20, -80 ºC), - Cabinets for DNA/RNA handling with UV module, - Refrigerated centrifugal - Autoclaves. • Pilot plants - Plant for steam explosion, AFEX, - thermostat-controlled incubation chambers, - Heat and cold chambers, - Bubble bioreactors with recirculation, - Biotrickling filters, - Air-lift bioreactors, - Stirred-tank bioreactors and fluidized bed bioreactors, - Gas and liquid fermenters, - Anaerobic digestors (wet and dry processes) - HRAP 180L, - Tubular photo-bioreactors.

Additional Information:

The Environmental Technology Research Group have several technical equipment in their facilities to perform their research. For each activity, this equipment consists of: -Pilot studies of biodegradability: Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (UASB) (0.5 - 200L), membrane bioreactors, dry digestion. - Sludge pre-treatment and solid waste:Thermal hydrolysis, ultrasound, enzymatic incubation - Pilot studies of biofiltration for VOC and odor treatment: Biofilters activated sludge difussion, biotricking filters, two-phase partitioning bioreactors. - Dynamic surveillance of microbian population for EDAR - Microalgae culture in high-speed algae ponds Besides of the already mentioned research activities supported by public institutions, the research group has actively collaborated with several companies with the aim of strengthening the transfer of knowledge between the University and the Industry. In this context, the Environmental Technology Research Group has participated in 40 publicly funded projects (with a total budget of €4,879,217 and 47 privately financed projects (with a total budget of €6,155,167). The Group currently consists of 10 Major Researchers, 5 PostDocs, 15 Doctorates, 2 Researches and 5 Technicians. Besides, the Group has defended 26 thesis, 174 ISI publications, 16 non-ISI publications, 178 international congresses and 6 patents.


3310 - Industrial technology

Other members:

Pedro Antonio García Encina
Mar Peña Miranda
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María Fernández Polanco
Sara I. Pérez Elvira
Raúl Muñoz Torre
Rubén Irusta
Silvia Bolado
Raquel Lebrero
Aitor Aizpuru
Nuria Martín
Araceli Crespo
Enrique Marco
Mónica Gay Martín
Daniel Fernández Planillo
Miguel Ángel Mouriz
Jonatan Prieto
Patricia Ayala
Rebeca Pérez
Esther Arnáiz
Rebeca López Serna
Elisa Rodríguez
Esther Posadas
Rodolfo Travaini
Sonia Martínez Páramo
Israel Díaz
José Manuel Estrada
Ieva Sapkaite
Juan Carlos López
Natalia Alfaro
Osvaldo Frutos
Sara Cantera
Judit Martín
Dimas García
Ilker Arkmirza
Ana Lorenzo
Thiago Do Nascimiento
Ricardo Saavedra Concha
David Marín de Jesús
María del Rosario Rodero
Roxana Ángeles Torres
Yadira Rodríguez
Cristina Álvarez Requena
Jaime Benito
Nereida Pérez



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