3. Treat&Use system

MODULE 1: Adapted low-energy MBR treatment system (pathogen free but nutrient rich waste water).

The MBR module will be based on a membrane bioreactor. The membrane panels are submerged in the bioreactor. Permeate is removed from each membrane panel via a tube connection located on the top. The aeration piping allows the formation of large bubbles via coalescence to provide an air-lift effect. This is important to enable down-flow in order to avoid a hydraulic lock.

In MBR systems the cost of energy for the aeration and membrane cleaning functions can represents the major demand of the total operational energy. The aim of the here proposed prototype is to reach values for energy consumptions below 1 kWh per m3 of treated wastewater. The promising results of the MBR treatment in TREAT & USE system stated that so far about 90% of the energy consumption could be reduced. Additionally the prototype could present operation modes which significantly reduced maintenance needs. Thus the MBR module can be functioned at comparably very low costs.

The effluent was not drinkable water but free of pathogens and suspended solids and rich in dissolved nutrients. Therefore it seemed to be most promising for direct agricultural irrigation.

MODULE 2: Mixing station (mixing with fresh water and additional nutrients (if needed) to gain tailor-made fertigation water.

The mixing module consists of two tanks which are foreseen to store permeate in one of them and freshwater in the other one. While the freshwater tank is connected to a freshwater source to be filled if required the other tank is connected to the MBR treatment module. The two tanks are connected at the mixing device; this device is equipped with an instrument which can dose additional fertilizer components for ideal fertigation.

What it is truly unique about the mixing unit is the case sensitive application of fertilizers and wastewater. This ensures absolute specific fertigation for optimal growth conditions for each crop.

MODULE 3: Fertigation system (adaption of irrigation systems to distribute fertigation water)

The technologies for the irrigation module will be adapted and integrated in order to fit to the requirements of the TREAT&USE system (e.g. size of nozzles, water pressure, materials of pipes). In the field tests of the planned project the TREAT&USE prototype will be adapted to a standard dripping system. The design of the TREAT & USE system will ensure a possible adaption to the established irrigation systems on the market and in use.

MODULE 4: Monitoring and Control (soil sensors combined with a monitoring and control unit).

The core of the monitoring and control system is the soil sensors installed on the plantation. These soil sensors can measure nutrition parameters to specify the contents of relevant minerals and macronutrients of every plant like sulphur, potassium, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and, additionally the soil moisture. These parameters will allow a perfect surveillance of the crops requirements and negative environmental impacts through leachate.

One of the main innovations brought by TREAT&USE is to develop an automated system which can identify the necessities of nutrients in the soil through sensors and adapt the dose of treated waste water according to those necessities in real time, easy to use for end-users (e.g. farmers).