WATOP - New tertiary waste water treatment for organic micro-pollutants PPCPs (Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products).

LIFE11 ENV/ES/000503

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Claudio Fernandez
Tel: +34 948 64 03 18
Fax: +34 948 64 03 19
Email: claudio.fernandez@lurederra.es

Project description:


Surface water and groundwater are subject to pollution by waste water and various natural and synthetic chemicals, which are proven to be present in most water bodies in Europe. These include synthetic organic chemicals, pesticides, drugs and endocrine disruptors.

Maintaining and improving the aquatic environment is one of the main objectives of European water policy. According to the European Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EG) “the ultimate aim …. is to achieve the elimination of priority hazardous substances and contribute to achieving concentrations in the marine environment near background values for naturally occurring substances”. One of the main challenges to achieving this is removing substances derived from the large quantities of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) that enter water systems.

Removal of PPCPs requires advanced ‘tertiary’ treatment to remove stubborn contaminants. However, existing tertiary treatment techniques – including advanced oxidation, nano-filtration and reverse osmosis - offer relatively low retention yields and are very costly, in terms of the initial investment, energy consumption and maintenance. Such treatments are, therefore, still not widely used in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).


The main goal of the WATOP project is to develop a semi-industrial pilot plant to demonstrate a new purification system for remove PPCPs from wastewater. The project aims to show that a membrane filled with innovative nano-resins of cross-linked cadmium (CD) and sodium polyacrylate (PAA) will remove PPCPs and other pollutants from water in a highly effective and efficient way.

The project has set a target of 82-94% removal of PPCPs from wastewater in the pilot treatment process. It also hopes to develop the regeneration capability of the membrane - by means of mild thermal treatment (lower than 120ºC) and by washing with a solution of methanol – and to reduce or even eliminate clogging problems on the membrane.

By demonstrating the technological viability and environmental and economic benefits of the new tertiary treatment process, the project ultimately hopes to improve both water quality and the management of water resources.

Expected results: The expected results of the pilot tertiary wastewater treatment process include:

  • Demonstration of an active filter device capable of processing 3 000m3/day of wastewater with an energy consumption of 0.9-1.20kWh/m3 of permeated water;
  • Retention of 82-94% of target compounds;
  • High performance in different conditions: ptimal operating pH levels between 3 and 10 and temperature between 1 and 25ºC;
  • Extended useful life of the purification unit, providing an efficient and long-term device;
  • Reduction of operating pressure to below 15 bars, with an associated reduction in energy consumption per m3;
  • Reduction of economic costs of the tertiary treatment to 0.20-0.12€/m3.

  • Results


Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Waste water treatment


water quality improvement‚  waste water treatment‚  pharmaceutical industry‚  pollutant elimination‚  hazardous waste

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description L´Urederra Foundation is a private, non-commercial organisation devoted to research and environmental innovation in nanotechnology and new materials. It has considerable experience of European projects, as well as in the reduction, recycling and reuse of organic waste.
Partners Servicios de Montejura S.A., Spain Ingeníera Lator S.L., Spain CYCLOLAB Cyclodextrin Research & Development Laboratory Ltd, Hungary


Project reference LIFE11 ENV/ES/000503
Duration 01-JUN-2012 to 30-NOV -2015
Total budget 967,956.00 €
EU contribution 481,887.00 €
Project location Navarra(España)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version