Ahidra 53


The activity of Ahidra's R&D department focuses on two main fields:

1. Improvement and innovation of existing processes
2. Development of new technologies in the field of wastewater treatment and the recovery of organic waste

Universities and technological centers
Research and development activities are carried out in part in collaboration with universities and leading technological centers at national and European level, through laboratory-scale piloting.

Pilot plantes industrial scale
In contrast to the controlled setting of the laboratory scale, our group is able to provide a pilot-scale study replicating the intricacies of commercial plant operations with a reduced and more manageable scale.

Project ManureEcoMine
Ahidra, in cooperation with four leading European research centers and six national and international companies, participated in the development of a slurry treatment system for the recovery and reuse of its nutrients. The main novelty of this project is based on the combination of new technologies that allow the separation of nutrients from slurry for use in natural fertilizers.
Currently, the most widely used fertilizers are synthetic, coming from fossil fuels. The widespread use of this type of fertilizers has led to the depletion of soils in crop fields, mainly due to the depletion of organic carbon, reducing the capacity to retain the nutrients provided. Basically, fertilizers provide N, K and P, elements found in large quantities in slurry, which are currently treated as waste due to their direct relationship with eutrophication phenomena.

There is currently no slurry treatment process capable of separating the nutrients they contain. The treatment they receive, due to environmental requirements, is aimed at eliminating nitrogen, the most common being the conventional nitrification and denitrification process. This process presents high energy costs, the impossibility of recovering the nitrogen removed from the water and causes significant emissions of N2O gas that increases the greenhouse effect. (N2O has a greenhouse effect 300 times greater than CO2). On the other hand, there are no refined nutrient recovery systems or technologies capable of selectively recovering phosphorus or potassium from slurry.

The technical objectives of the ManureEcoMine project therefore focus on the study, design and development of a new slurry treatment system that includes:

Nitrogen removal through the implementation of partial nitritation/anammox: Different scientific studies have reported the feasibility of using partial nitritation/anammox in the treatment of digested manure. However, there is currently no validation or implementation of the process.

Thermophilic digestion of slurry: the aim is to improve the state of the art associated with the thermophilic process by assembling a stripping system in the digester to reduce ammonia levels.
The synergy of both processes will result in a more stable process that will result in:
  • Increased speed of biogas production
  • Nutrient release
  • Increased sanitation of the digestate obtained
  • Reduction of digestate volume
  • Recovery of nitrogen in the form of ammonium by means of the stripper
  • Recovery of nutrients separately, so there has been practically no state of the art.
  • Nitrogen recovery: it is intended to combine ammonium stripping with the thermophilic anaerobic digestion process; as a result, nitrogen will be recovered in the form of ammonium sulfate.
  • Phosphorus and Potassium recovery: currently there are no technologies capable of selectively recovering these elements, so recovery by precipitation of struvite.
    • In the presence of ammonium, ammonium struvite is expected to be obtained, with a content of 13% at P
    • If ammonium has been previously eliminated, potassium struvite will mainly form, with a content of 12% to K.

The use of a thermophilic anaerobic digestion process will favor the release of the P present in the particulate fraction of the manure in the form of phosphate and therefore enables greater recovery of the same.

Starting from the fact that the P levels released in thermophilic conditions are 2-3 times higher than those observed in mesophilic conditions and having reported the potential of the struvite precipitation process in different pilot studies, this project will address the combination of both technologies. for the recovery of P, so there are no previous experiences.

Finally, the effluents from the process can be discharged directly into the river, according to current regulations.

For the execution of the project, a multidisciplinary work team has been formed between the different companies of the consortium that will work together in the different tasks described in the project report, among which we highlight the following, in which Ahidra acts as leader:
  • Pilot prototype development and commissioning 
  • Optimization of the process focused on the study of the interactions between the different stages.
  • Operation tests under stable conditions. Performance evaluation, control and establishment of the optimal operation scheme.
  • Study of the economic and environmental performance of the different alternatives developed.

Ahidra's participation is essential as it provides its experience in advanced technologies in the recovery of organic waste and wastewater treatment for the design of the new prototype treatment system, as well as the validation of the new process and the assessment of its economic and environmental performance.


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