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Innovative aeration technology to remove phosphorus, organic carbon and nitrogen from waste water

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Industrial Water Treatment
Municipal Water Treatment
Wastewater Recycling
Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems


A Spanish university has developed an innovative technology for removing phosphorus, organic carbon and nitrogen from waste water using aerobic granular biomass and pulsed aeration. The technology reduces energy consumption, increases the removal rates of phosphorus, nitrogen and organic carbon and is able to produce high quality biomass. The university is looking for chemical companies related with wastewater treatment interested in licensing the technology.



This method for removing phosphorus, organic carbon and nitrogen from industrial or urban wastewater uses aerobic granular biomass. Aerobic granular biomass was developed for the first time at the end of the 90’ and there are few technological developments related to this kind of biomass even though it offers several advanteges over the conventional aerobic treatments. However, in the case of heterotrophic aerobic granules, long start-up times are required and involve high aeration costs, sice it is necessary to supply high amounts of oxygen to maintain the agitation of the reactor and biological reactions.

This new technology for wastewater treatment developed by the Spanish university is able to reduce the start-up time of the system and improve the properties of the aerobic granules thanks to the application of pulsating aeration. With this option of pulsating aeration, it is possible to favor the development of biopolymer accumulators and also to shorten the start-up time of the aerobic granular biomass reactors, reducing the time necessary for the granulation process. In addition, the pulsating aeration improves the physical properties of the granules, such as density, and gives them stability. The latter is very important, since until now the application of these systems on a full scale has been limited by events of low stability of the aggregates formed. Therefore, solving the stability problem of aerobic granules results in more efficient operation on an industrial scale. Once the granulation process is completed, pulsating aeration also allows the reduction of costs associated with air consumption.

The operating cycle of this method comprises the following phases:
a) a feed phase in which the wastewater to be treated is introduced into a reactor that allows the development of biopolymer accumulating organisms;
b) an aerobic phase with pulsating aeration;
c) a sedimentation phase of the granular biomass; and
d) a phase of emptying the effluent from the reactor.

In the emptying stage the system removes organic carbon and/or nitrogen from the effluent removed, where the removal ranges from 77% to 92% and 23% to 43%, respectively. It also removes phosphorus from the effluent with an efficiency ranging from 89% to 100%.

The university is looking for license agreements with customers from chemical industry related with wastewater treatment and with capacity for distribution and commercialization in different world regions. These customers will have the capacity to negotiate the patent licensing of the technology and to bring the product to market.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
The main innovative advantages are: • Reduction of energy consumption thanks to the shortening of time needed for the granulation process. • Increase in the removal rate of phosphorous (from 89% to 100%), nitrogen (from 23% to 43%) and organic carbon (from 77% to 92%). • Production of high quality biomass in terms due to the pulsating aeration.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Field tested/evaluated

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
The university would like to sign a license agreement with entities from the chemical industry directly related with wastewater treatment able to distribute and commercialize the technology in different world regions.