LIFE LESSWATT - Innovative wireless tool for reducing energy consumption and GHGs emission of water resource recovery facilities

LIFE16 ENV/IT/000486

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Project description:


Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs) are essential for achieving the objectives of the Water Framework Directive but they also represent a significant source of three greenhouse gases (GHGs): carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Direct emissions come from the biological processes taking place within WRRFs while indirect emissions are associated with the energy produced outside the WRRF and imported to supply treatment units. Aeration of the biological tanks is known to be responsible for 50-60% of the total energy consumption on average and can reach up to 80% of the total energy demand in biological WRRFs, accounting for most of the indirect emissions of GHGs from these facilities. According to Eurostat data, wastewater treatment is still inadequate, especially in southeast European countries. Pollutant loads treated in aerobic plants in Europe are predicted to continuously increase in the coming years. This brings increasing energy requirements and the need for sustainable solutions for wastewater treatment. Therefore, the carbon footprint of WRRFs needs to be significantly reduced by optimising treatment steps and lowering energy requirements.


LIFE LESSWATT aims to target both the environmental issues related to the energy consumption of WRRFs and their direct GHG emissions. The project will develop an innovative tool for assessing and minimising both direct and indirect contributions of aerated compartments in WRRFs to the facility’s overall carbon footprint. This tool incorporates two innovative elements: the LESSDRONE, an automated, wireless and self-moving device for monitoring Oxygen Transfer Efficiency (OTE) and GHG emissions under normal operating conditions; and a model-based user-friendly tool (protocol) for converting complex information into concrete actions aimed at minimising the carbon footprint.The tool’s effectiveness will be demonstrated and validated in the WRRFs of tannery CUOIODEPUR and in five other plants, three in Italy and two in the Netherlands.

The LIFE LESSDRONE tool will also facilitate the implementation of EU and national environmental policies by:
  • Effectively evaluating the impact of new climate-related environmental policies;
  • Making the implementation of environmental policies less costly;
  • Facilitating compliance with the European regulation establishing a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register; and
  • Providing widely applicable guidelines for European WRRFs located in climatically similar regions, identifying the best equilibrium between OTE and GHG emissions.

    Expected results: The main outcome will be a tool for assessing and minimising the overall GHG emissions due to aerobic biological wastewater treatment in the tannery plant of CUOIODEPUR with expected savings in energy for aeration in the range of 10-25%.

    In the six pilot wastewater treatment plants where the protocol will be applied, it is expected to achieve:

  • Potential energy saving of about 9 800 000 kWh/y and 4 500 tCO2eq/y;
  • Increased aeration efficiency by 10-30%;
  • Reductions of 10-30% in indirect GHGs emissions due to aeration;
  • Improved reliability of GHGs emission inventories;
  • Considerable reduction of costs for water services; and
  • A business plan for the commercialisation of the prototype and the protocol.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Leather and Footwear
Water - Waste water treatment


clean technology‚  waste water treatment‚  leather industry‚  pollutant elimination

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 91/271 - Urban waste water treatment (21.05.1991)
  • COM(2012)673 -"A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources"

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale - Universit degli Studi di Firenze
Type of organisation University
Description The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the University of Florence (UNIFI-DICEA) has been carrying out academic and research activities in the fields of sanitary and environmental engineering since 1981. The department has many specialised laboratories, including two run in collaboration with industrial partners that enable chemical, biological and biochemical analysis of water and wastewater from treatment plants in Florence including its industrial tannery district.
Partners West Systems S.r.l., Italy Consorzio Cuoiodepur SpA, Italy Universiteit Gent, Belgium UTILITATIS pro Acqua Energia Ambiente, Italy


Project reference LIFE16 ENV/IT/000486
Duration 01-OCT-2017 to 31-MAR -2021
Total budget 1,267,708.00 €
EU contribution 760,624.00 €
Project location Piemonte(Italia) Valle d'Aosta(Italia) Liguria(Italia) Lombardia(Italia) Trentino-Alto Adige(Italia) Veneto(Italia) Friuli-Venezia Giulia(Italia) Emilia-Romagna(Italia) Toscana(Italia) Umbria(Italia) Marche(Italia) Lazio(Italia) Campania(Italia) Abruzzo(Italia) Molise(Italia) Puglia(Italia) Basilicata(Italia) Calabria(Italia) Sicilia(Italia) Sardegna(Italia) Groningen(Nederland) Friesland(Nederland) Drenthe(Nederland) Overijssel(Nederland) Gelderland(Nederland) Flevoland(Nederland) Noord-Brabant(Nederland) Limburg(Nederland) Utrecht(Nederland) Noord-Holland(Nederland) Zuid-Holland(Nederland) Zeeland(Nederland)


Read more:

Brochure "Innovative wireless tool for reducing energy consumption and GHGs emission of water resource recovery facilities" (6.76 MB)
Brochure Title: "Innovative wireless tool for reducing energy consumption and GHGs emission of water resource recovery facilities" (6.76 MB) Author: Cecilia Caretti (ed.) Editor: LESSWATT No of pages: 8
Poster "Innovative wireless tool for reducing energy cons ...
Project web site Project's website


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