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The CALAGUA-UV group is constituted by professors belonging to the Department of Chemical Engineering of the University of Valencia. Within the different research groups of the Department of Chemical Engineering, the CALAGUA-UV group focuses its activity in the area of ​​knowledge of Environmental Technologies and more specifically in the wastewater treatment. CALAGUA-UV has been collaborating for more than two decades with different national and international research groups in lines of research related to the development of technologies for pollutants removal and resources recovery in both urban and industrial wastewater. It is worth highlighting the more than 25 years of collaboration with the Water Quality group of the Institute of Water and Environment Engineering of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), collaboration that has allowed the development of control systems in water treatment plants wastewater (WWTP), simulation models of WWTP biological processes, as well as methodologies for the characterization of water and biomass.

The scientific and technical objectives of the CALAGUA-UV group are:

  • Sustainable and comprehensive water management (separation and selective treatment of wastewater effluents)
  • Development of sustainable technologies for wastewater treatment
  • Recovery of resources contained in wastewater (energy, nutrients, reusable water)
  • Energy, economic and environmental evaluation through life cycle analysis of advanced purification processes
  • Study of the behavior and elimination of priority and emerging pollutants in wastewater treatment

The research lines of the CALAGUA-UV group are:

  • Photobioreactors and microalgae production. Design and development, both from a scientific point of view and a technology transfer point of view, conducting pilot-scale microalgae cultivation experiments for the removal of nutrients from urban wastewater.
  • Anaerobic recovery of organic matter. Design and development of efficient technologies for the recovery of organic waste of different origin, such as urban wastewater, industrial wastewater, urban solid waste, algal biomass, etc. Depending on the type of waste to be recovered, CALAGUA evaluates the viability of different anaerobic treatment systems, such as mesophilic or thermophilic anaerobic digesters, or anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBR), as well as the combination of different anaerobic systems that allow transforming the current ones WWTP in factories of nutrients, reclaimed water and energy.
  • Nutrient removal and recovery. Study and optimization at laboratory and pilot plant scale of advanced configurations for the removal of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) by biological processes to avoid their discharge and the eutrophication of rivers, lakes and coasts. Study of phosphorus recovery systems in the form of struvite through crystallization processes and nitrogen recovery systems through membrane contactors.
  • Control and optimization of WWTP. Design and development of control systems for primary sludge fermentation process, optimization of volatile acid production, sludge stream management to avoid problems of uncontrolled struvite precipitation, aeration and nitrogen removal.
  • Membranes for water treatment. Development, both from a scientific point of view and a technology transfer point of view, of membrane systems for the recovery of resources from wastewater and for its reuse.
  • Water quality. Characterization of wastewater of different origin, as well as the different currents that define a WWTP (influent, effluent, sludge, recirculation ...), analyzing both conventional pollutants (COD, BOD, ammonia, ...) and micro-pollutants (pesticides, herbicides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, volatile organic compounds, TBT, ...). Development of new measurement techniques, fine-tuning of measurement methodologies and development of procedures and protocols for evaluating data quality, guaranteeing the quality, repeatability and reproducibility of each measurement.
  • Priority and emerging pollutants. Development and application of analytical techniques aimed at the identification, detection, characterization, quantification and fate of micro-pollutants in the water and sludge lines of the current WWTP, as well as in the novel processes for organic matter removal (membrane reactors) and nutrients (microalgae culture). Likewise, the presence of these micro-pollutants in the receiving natural environment is studied, for which not only water samples but also sediments and biota in contact with them are analyzed. In this way, these substances can be monitored in the receiving environment to evaluate the impact that their discharge causes in aquatic environments.
  • Mathematical modeling. Development of mathematical models for sedimentation processes, primary sludge fermentation, two-stage nitrification, acid-base processes, precipitation processes, sulfurogenesis and filtration. The group has developed global models that incorporate the main physical, chemical and biological processes that take place in a WWTP, both in the water line and in the sludge line. These models are: Biological Nutrient Removal Model No. 1 (BNRM1) and Biological Nutrient Removal Model No. 2 (BNRM2). This last model is implemented in the DESASS software.
  • Microbiological analysis and biokinetic analysis. Microbiological study of wastewater treatment systems applying both basic techniques, such as observation by phase contrast or differential staining, as well as molecular techniques, including FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) or qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction). Study of biological systems from the point of view of microbial diversity, applying massive NGS (next-generation sequencing) techniques.
  • Economic and environmental sustainability. Evaluation of the economic and environmental impact of technologies for the treatment of wastewater and other wastes, as well as in the study and evaluation of new alternatives that allow reducing the economic and environmental impact in the wastewater treatment sector, through the application of the life cycle analysis tool. This tool makes it possible to evaluate the sustainability of different technologies, both from an economic point of view (LCC, Life Cycle Costing) and an environmental point of view (LCA, Life Cycle Assessment). These tools serve as the basis for the development of Decision Support Systems (DSS) aimed at making decisions during the design and monitoring of treatment systems.

Research group members: 

  • Seco Torrecillas, Aurora (Head)
  • Aparicio Antón, Stéphanie
  • Borrás Falomir, Luis
  • Bouzas Blanco, Alberto
  • Ferrón López, Berta
  • Giménez García, Juan Bautista
  • Martí Ortega, Nuria
  • Pacherres Ato, Adriana
  • Ribes Bertomeu, Josep
  • Robles Martínez, Ángel
  • Ruano García, Maria Victoria
  • Ruiz Barriga, Patricia
  • Ruiz Martínez, Ana
  • Sanchis Perucho, Pau
  • Serna García, Rebecca

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