LIFE WaterReuse - improving water management efficiency at industries with organic load

LIFE12 ENV/ES/000184

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Contact details:

Contact person: Pedro MUÑOZ
Tel: +34968253500
Fax: 34968341562
Email: munoz.p@dmg.es

Project description:


The predicted growth in agriculture, industry and municipality water use in EU foresees a 40% gap between demand and supply in 2030. Wastewater re-use is one way in which this estimated gap can be reduced. Improved water management is reflected in overall decreased industrial water withdrawals or increased wastewater treatment, enhancing the connection between higher productivity, lower consumption and effluent discharges and reduced pollution.


WaterReuse’s overall objective was to apply, validate and disseminate a sustainable system for re-using water from industry with high organic loads. It aimed to provide a definitive solution to problems relating to Best Available Techniques (e.g. membrane filtration, electro and photocatalysis oxidation and solar panels) for this type of waste. This solution would be tested by chemical and food companies that must comply with strict European regulations on emissions.

The specific aims of the WaterReuse project were to:

  • Demonstrate the feasibility of simultaneously reducing water consumption and carbon footprint based on the use of combined electrochemical oxidation and membrane filtration (The model produces hydrogen as a by-product, while the energy is supplied by renewable photoelectric solar panels and controlled by an intelligent system);
  • Optimise the system, assessing different components and verifying if it is a viable option;
  • Facilitate the transfer of the process, carrying out technical, economic and adaptation studies to better apply this process in other areas that share the same problem (The model would be validated with wastewaters from different industries: flavours and fragrances, juice, frozen and pickled); and
  • Disseminate experience and knowledge generated to different stakeholders across Europe.

The system is easily transferable to other industries: drink, dairy and organic chemical, all of them with high production of organic waste. It could also be of high interest to treat urban wastewaters from small villages.


The WaterReuse Project demonstrated the feasibility of introducing a sustainable system for re-using industrial wastewater with high organic loads. A prototype was constructed in Murcia that combines three technologies: a membrane filtration system, together with photo-oxidation and electro-oxidation treatments. The project technology proved effective in treating wastewaters from different industries (e.g. chemical, pickles, sweets and oil production). During the project, improvements to the prototype were made to accommodate changes in market prices. In particular, the project included two types of electro-oxidation reactors that allow for two different technologies to be tested and their performance to be compared: one is easier to maintain and better for wastewaters with high salt content, and the other one has a lower energy consumption. A photovoltaic solar system was also improved, achieving a total peak power of 40 kW, more than the 14 kW foreseen.

One of the main advantages of the project technology is its versatility, given that it can be adapted to many different types of wastewater. The project team tested wastewaters from seven different food and chemical industries and with different pollutant characteristics, and the technology was shown to be effective for all of them. From these tests, it was possible to define the main parameters that affect the performance of the system, and in this way facilitate the transfer of the technology to other sectors. This information was included in the production of a guide to replication. Furthermore, due to the modular configuration of the prototype, it can easily be up-scaled and adapted to the required treatment flow.

The total suspension solids are nearly totally removed by the filtration systems. Ultra and Nano-membranes filtration modules may remove an important part of organic contaminants with high molecular weight. Moreover, the water's carbon organic demand can be reduced entirely, depending on the time and intensity of electro-oxidation treatment. The project proved that treatment with membranes is cheaper than wastewater electro-oxidation, but the pollutants cannot be sufficiently reduced to reach legal mandatory discharge parameters by only using the membranes. For this reason, the project team established general operation conditions depending on the characteristics of the wastewater treated, in order to reach a balance between the removal of pollutants and energy consumption, and to define the most efficient way to operate. Murcia is a Spanish region that is prone to water shortages, and so by significantly reducing industrial demand for water, the project reduces the risk of shortages and avoids negative socioeconomic effects. The project moreover created two full-time jobs, which will be retained in the up-scaling of the pilot at the beneficiary’s premises following the close of the project.

The project’s achievements will help with the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), the directive on industrial emissions (2010/75/EU, former IPPC) and the directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (2009/28/EC). It also supports the second key action area of the 7EAP, the Resource-efficient economy, since the project follows “turning waste into a resource” and also it contributes to a “more efficient use of our water”.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Environmental management - Cleaner technologies
Water - Waste water treatment


clean technology‚  waste water treatment‚  industrial waste‚  water reuse‚  renewable energy

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Industry and Product Policy
  • Directive 2010/75 - Industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (24.11.201 ...
  • Climate Change & Energy efficicency
  • Directive 2009/28 - Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (23.04.2009)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Destilerias Muñoz Galvez s.a.
Type of organisation International enterprise
Description Destilerias Muñoz Galvez S.A. is a private chemical company based in Murcia, Spain. It produces a wide range of products for fragrances and flavours.
Partners National Technological Centre for the Food and Canning Industry Research Business Association, Spain


Project reference LIFE12 ENV/ES/000184
Duration 01-OCT-2013 to 30-SEP -2015
Total budget 1,688,437.00 €
EU contribution 844,218.00 €
Project location Murcia(España)


Read more:

Leaflet "Mejora de la gestión del agua en industrias con v ...
Newsletter "Noticias 2014" (362 KB)
Newsletter "Mejora de la gestión del agua residual en industr ...
Newsletter "Mejora de la gestión del agua residual en industr ...
Newsletter "Mejora en la gestión del agua en industrias con a ...
Poster "Mejora de la gestión del agua residual en industr ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan (Spanish version)
Publication: Case study "Breve descripción de la tecnología aplicadas en e ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Spanish/English version)
Slides Presentation "Improving Water Management Efficiency at Industri ...
Slides Presentation "PROGRAMA LIFE+ 2012: PROYECTO: WaterReuse, mejora ...
Video link "WaterReuse : project video" (3.43')
Video link "WaterReuse : project video" (3.43')


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