LIFE13 ENV/ES/001353

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Contact details:

Contact person: Frank ROGALLA
Tel: 34917574505
Fax: 34917036507
Email: innovacion@aqualia.es

Project description:


More than 500 million people in Europe generate around 27 billion m³ of municipal wastewater each year. Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) consume large amounts of energy. For example, WWTPs in Germany use around 4400 GWh/year, the equivalent to roughly 1% of the country’s total net electricity consumption per year.

Currently, most WWTPs use aerobic processes which consume a considerable amount of energy. Bioreactor aeration can use as much as 60% of total WWTP energy consumption.

Costs related to such wastewater treatment are expected to rise due to increasing restrictions on the discharge of treated water (EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC) and sludge disposal. Such restrictions represent a significant challenge for treating wastewater. Furthermore, new regulations related to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions could penalise both energy consumption and sludge production.


The LIFE MEMORY project aims to demonstrate (at an industrial prototype scale) an anaerobic technology, using the innovative Submerged Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (SAnMBR) technology, as an alternative to traditional urban wastewater treatment. The SAnMBR technology combines anaerobic digestion and membrane technology, allowing for the treatment of urban wastewater at ambient temperatures. Anaerobic digestion allows the conversion of the organic matter into a biogas flow (composed mainly by CH4 and CO2) that can be used at the WWTP to generate heat energy and electric power. On the other hand membrane filtration allows the sludge retention time (SRT) to be increased by 100% without increasing the reactor volume – thus in turn permitting anaerobic processes to be used for low-loaded wastewaters. Low growth rate of anaerobic bacteria coupled to longer sludge retention time reduces sludge production, so that there is less residual waste to be disposed of and fewer emissions.

This new approach focuses on a more sustainable concept, where wastewater converts into a source of energy and nutrients, and also a recyclable water resource by membrane disinfection.

The project will demonstrate the economic feasibility of using SAnMBR technology for treating urban wastewater in a pilot plant consisting of an anaerobic reactor with a total volume of 7m3 connected to two membrane tanks, each one with a total volume of 1m3.

Expected results:

  • Reduction of the energy consumption per m3 of treated water by 70%: the expected results would be a net consumption of only 0.11 kWh/m3 when treating sulphate-rich urban wastewater, and -0.10 kWh/m3 (net energy production) for low sulphate urban wastewater. Compared to typical consumption ratios in WWTPs based on CAS process (0.25-0.6 kWh/m3) and aerobic MBR systems (0.50-2.5 kWh/m3), the proposed technology offers a significant reduction in electricity consumption and the related carbon footprint;
  • Reduction of CO2 emissions from the oxidation of organic matter by 80%, passing from (in CO2 equivalents) 2.4 kg CO2/kg COD eliminated to 1.4 kg CO2/kg COD eliminated;
  • Reduction by 50% of sludge production (kg TSS/kg COD removed) compared to aerobic processes;
  • Reduction by 25% of the space requirement for the treatment facilities compared to the conventional, ‘aerobic’ WWTPs; and
  • Establishment of a protocol for the design and operation of WWTPs based on this new technology.



Environmental issues addressed:


Climate change Mitigation - Energy efficiency
Energy - Efficiency
Energy - Savings
Energy - Supply
Environmental management - Cleaner technologies
Water - Waste water treatment


alternative technology‚  renewable energy‚  urban wastewater‚  use of waste as energy source‚  energy saving‚  emission reduction‚  greenhouse gas‚  energy supply‚  biomass energy

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator aqualia gestion integral del agua S.A.
Type of organisation Public enterprise
Description Aqualia is a private sector company in the FCC Group (Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas) that specialises in the management of public water services; design and construction of hydraulic infrastructures and treatment plants; global solutions for the use of water in industry.
Partners UPV(Universitat Politècnica de València), Spain KMS(Koch Membrane Systems Division of John Zink KEU GmbH), Germany UV(Universitat de Valencia), Spain


Project reference LIFE13 ENV/ES/001353
Duration 01-JUL-2014 to 30-JUN -2018
Total budget 2,102,327.00 €
EU contribution 1,046,101.00 €
Project location Nordrhein-Westfalen(Deutschland) Madrid(España) Comunidad Valenciana(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website


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