LIFE NANOBUBBLES - Demonstrating Nanobubbles Technology for more Sustainable and Efficient Urban Wastewater Treatment

LIFE17 ENV/ES/000434

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Contact details:

Contact person: Juan Antonio Gascón
Tel: 34902998368
Fax: 34944780025
Email: jagascon@ekotek.es

Project description:


Wastewater treatment is a major issue for all European countries. Current processes are not sufficiently efficient and have a huge environmental footprint, mainly related to high energy use and the production of large volumes of sewage sludge. The EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) specifies minimum levels of treatment wastewater should receive before its discharge to the environment. The directive requires EU countries to ensure that all agglomerations with more than 2 000 people have collection systems and facilities for the biological treatment of wastewater to quickly break down organic waste.

The EU has about 25 000 towns and cities of more than 2 000 people. The volume of wastewater produced is huge – an overall load of 621 million population equivalents generated by the EU population of 508 million. Among the direct environmental impacts of this are:

  • Electricity usage equating to 1% of global total electricity consumption; aeration in wastewater treatment plants generates 55% of the energy demand;
  • Annual production of 9 million tonnes of sewage sludge.


The LIFE NANOBUBBLES project aims to demonstrate an environmentally-friendly alternative to standard aeration in wastewater treatment plants. It will test the use in aeration of nanobubbles, or bubbles millions of times smaller than normal bubbles in water. The implementation of this new technology is expected to enable more sustainable and cost-effective wastewater treatment that offers enhanced compliance with EU standards.

The approach has the potential to help several EU countries which are still not in line with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, or with the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), the EU’s overarching water law under which water resources should have achieved “good status” by 2015.

Expected results:

  • A demonstrator that will show for the first time at European level the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of nanobubbles technology for reducing energy consumption in urban wastewater treatment plants;
  • A sustainability assessment setting out the environmental, economic and social impacts of nanobubbles;
  • Protocols for using nanobubbles technology in urban wastewater treatment plants, as a basis for wider take-up of the technology;
  • Production and commercialisation plans for market entry of the nanobubbles technology;
  • A 70% energy consumption reduction;
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: avoidance of 89 tonnes/year of CO2 emissions during the project;
  • Less sewage sludge: a halving of the amount of sewage sludge produced in wastewater treatment compared to traditional aerobic processes; and
  • A 60% reduction in the treatment cost per cubic metre of waste water.



Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Waste water treatment


energy efficiency‚  resource conservation‚  water quality improvement‚  waste water treatment‚  emission reduction‚  water pollution

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Directive 91/271 - Urban waste water treatment (21.05.1991)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Large enterprise
Description EKOTEK is an environmental engineering and consulting company, working on environmental projects from initial studies to final implementation. EKOTEK’s main areas of expertise are clean technologies, environmental evaluations, eco-design, water, energy, contaminated soils and nanomaterials.
Partners LUNA S.R.L, Italy


Project reference LIFE17 ENV/ES/000434
Duration 01-JUL-2018 to 31-DEC -2020
Total budget 634,252.00 €
EU contribution 380,551.00 €
Project location País Vasco(España)


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