Objectives and overview of the project

IDOUM project will focus on the following objectives:

A scheme of the project scope and a brief overview of the specific state-of-the-art are described below.

Expected outcomes and impact of the research

IDOUM project will join researchers of very diverse backgrounds, from chemical engineering, environmental and analytical chemistry to plant physiology and microbiology and water resource management. The project will also include 3 PhD students and two post-doctoral students.

The transdisciplinary approach of this project draws on the idea that by using innovative technologies based on engineered biological treatment with specialized microorganisms (endophytic bacteria, microalgae, fungi) and low-cost nano-structured materials for oxidant activation, and by fundamental understanding of what antibiotics and ARB&G have the highest environmental and human health risk, we can develop cost-effective technological solutions tailored to remove these specific contaminants.

This will in turn promote the transition from traditional water management practices towards decentralized production of treated domestic wastewater and safe local reuse of wastewater.

The two proposed treatment systems have a clear potential to advance the energy-efficiency of current water treatment technologies and evolve into cost-effective, stand-alone treatment systems that can be adopted by small municipalities, farmers and other end-user without significant capital costs or on-site operators.

This will not only provide savings in the energy invested to remove relevant emerging contaminants, but also lower the need for large conveyance networks for the treated water for irrigation or for other non-potable reuse, and further lower the emission greenhouse gases of the wastewater cycle.

The distributed nature of the proposed innovative treatment strategies and possibility to couple these units to renewable energy also means that they can offer integrated solutions for expanding access to energy-sustainable water while simultaneously enhancing security of water supply.

Groundbreaking research on the performance of the heterogeneous Fenton processes and biological-based treatment systems will provide the basis for developing high performing treatment systems and enable to go beyond the research program proposed here and contribute to the development of other water treatment applications.

Optimization, evaluation and implementation of the proposed technologies will be facilitated by defining a set of indicator contaminants. Data-derived prioritization and selection of a limited set of antibiotics and ARB&G will facilitate data acquisition in the monitoring of wastewater and the assessment of technology efficiency.

The application of proposed technologies could reduce the potential source of selective pressure in conventional biological WWTPs that often elevates the levels of antibiotic resistance in native bacteria and could alleviate the antibiotic resistance problem which is a major health security challenge in the 21st Century.

Overly stringent non-potable reuse quality tandards represent a major barrier to further development of reuse projects, and simplification of the regulatory framework is urgently needed. This will overcome the sanitary doubts on wastewater reuse practices and will enhance the trust of implementing reuse.

This will have a significant added value in the economy of the countries in trying to establish solid water balances, avoiding at the same time investments on more expensive and energy exhaustive means like water desalination.