LIFE ZERO WASTE WATER - Positive energy waste water treatment plant for combined treatment of waste water and bio-waste in small populations

LIFE19 ENV/ES/000631

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Contact details:

Contact person: José R. Vázquez Padín
Tel: 0034917574500
Email: jvazquezp@fcc.es

Project description:


In Europe, Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP) have a high environmental impact, since they represent 0.8% of electricity consumption in the EU and generate up to 13 million tons of sludge. EU regulations for water and landfills require improvements in output water quality and reduced waste production at WWTPs. Most of the EUs WWTPs are in locations where populations are less than 50 000 inhabitants, and only secondary treatment is applied with low-efficiency technologies, like the Conventional Activated Sludge (CAS) system. CAS is based on aerobic processes that require a supply of oxygen, with high energy consumption. In addition, large amounts of sludge are produced and the amount of reusable water that is obtained is very limited. Furthermore, organic matter and energy are needed for nitrogen removal. Therefore, an alternative is needed. Integrated management and processing of OFMSW (organic fraction of municipal solid waste) and wastewater can become a cost-effective and carbon-negative alternative (aligned with the EU Green Deal) for the sustainable management of these two separate waste streams.


The LIFE ZERO WASTE WATER project will demonstrate an innovative, cost-efficient and positive energy balance waste water treatment plant (WWTP) solution for the integrated management of urban wastewater (WW) and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW). This will be especially designed for WWTPs serving small populations (i.e. < 50 000 inhabitants).

The specific objectives are to:

  • Set up a strategy for the collection of Kitchen Food Waste (KFW) at municipal level; - Design a management strategy, considering regulatory barriers, for the collection of the KFW, on-site treatment and disposal into the sewer system, for the mixed waste stream (KFW and WW);
  • Develop an Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR), based on the pilot plant developed in the project LIFE MEMORY (LIFE13 ENV/ES/001353), where WW and OFMSW streams will be jointly treated, by integrating anaerobic treatment and membrane ultrafiltration in a single step;
  • Develop a Partial Nitritation-Anammox (PN-AMX) reactor: the organic matter free stream from AnMBR treated to remove nitrogen in the projects PN-AMX reactor;
  • Develop a Nutrients Extraction and Recovery Module: an Adsorption and Biosolids Composting Units will be set up to receive effluents from AnMBR and the PN/AMX;
  • Integration of the AnMBR, PN/AMX and Nutrients Extraction and Recovery Modules in a compact solution with synergistic results and minimum requirements in terms of energy and surface area; and
  • Develop a Smart Water Monitoring and Control System for efficient water management.

The project objectives are fully in line with the Waste Framework Directive, the Water Framework Directive, and related policy initiatives, like the Europe 2020 Resource-efficient Roadmap and the Blueprint to Safeguard European Waters.


Expected results:

  • A low-carbon footprint strategy for the integrated management and processing of Kitchen Food Waste (KFW) and waste water (WW), using the existing sewer networks in locations with populations of less than 50 000 people;
  • A model for an efficient, carbon-negative and cost-effective zero energy balance WWTP, for locations with < 50 000 inhabitants, able to treat mixedwaste streams with KFW and WW, based on the combination of AnMBR and PN/AMX reactors;
  • A WWPT having a positive energy balance;
  • Increased recovery of water (95% of Free-Pathogen Water to be used either for fertigation or environmental purposes);
  • Reduced biosolids production: up to 0,2 kg stabilized biosolids/kg COD removed;
  • Reduced N2O emissions: 7.2 g N2O/kg N removed; and
  • Nutrients Recovery: 5 g of P/m3 and 0,2 kg of composted soil fertilizer/m3.

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Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Waste water treatment
Waste - Municipal waste (including household and commercial)
Energy - Efficiency
Climate change Mitigation - Energy efficiency


waste water treatment

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Waste
  • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
  • Directive 75/442/EEC -"Waste framework directive" (15.07.1975)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator FCC AQUALIA S.A
Partners UVEG(UNIVERSITAT DE VALÈNCIA), Spain VWMS(VWMS GmbH), Austria SIMBIENTE(Simbiente – Engenharia e Gestão Ambiental, Lda), Portugal USC(UNIVERSIDADE DE SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA), Spain CANAL(CANAL DE ISABEL II, S.A.), Spain


Project reference LIFE19 ENV/ES/000631
Duration 01-SEP-2020 to 31-AUG -2024
Total budget 2,454,512.00 €
EU contribution 1,349,978.00 €
Project location


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