Galicia (NW Iberian Peninsula) has one of the marine ecosystems with the highest levels of biodiversity of the world due to its unique conditions. Galician coastal areas are mostly an alternate series of rías, submerged valleys where the sea penetrates tens of kilometres inland.
Southern rías (Rías Baixas) are rich in marine life, promoting fishing and aquaculture activities which account for 3% of Galician Gross Internal Product (EU Commission 2007). In this sense, Galicia accounts for the highest production of transformed fish products in Europe and in some cases in the world (mussels canning), highly depending on such activities.
Many industries in the Rías Baixas are dedicated to transform raw fish and seafood collected from the sea into products with higher organoleptic quality, longer shelf life and, ultimately, higher value-added products. However, their production process is characterized by high water consumption and the subsequent emission of large quantities of wastewater which demands adequate treatment.
LIFE SEACAN has demonstrate the potential of two innovative biofilm-based technologies (aerobic granular sludge and hybrid bioreactors) which have been implemented to decrease the impact of industrial activity on marine ecosystems. Biofilm-based systems have been successfully applied in several industrial sectors, but the application to fish canning effluents has not been reported yet. However, preliminary tests have shown a remarkable high effluent quality with simultaneous reduction of energy consumption and carbon footprint, compared to conventional wastewater treatment technologies:
- Reduction of energy consumption by at least 20%.
- Improvement of the effluent quality: up to 90% and 95% of nitrogen and organic matter removal, respectively.
- 25% lower footprint.
LIFE SEACAN prototype has been implemented in a representative fish cannery industry located in Galicia, where almost 80% of Spanish fish canning industries are gathered. The potential benefits over marine environment preservation have been quantified and evaluated in Rías Baixas, the most adequate environment for a reliable demonstration.
Duration: September 2015 – October 2019
Budget: 1,722,373€ / 1,033,123€ funded by European Comission
The positive effects of the proposed treatment technologies have been assessed using several key performance indicators, including a specific monitoring study of the benthic ecosystem has provided for the first time direct quantification of environmental benefits. The main objectives of the project have been accomplished following specific sub-tasks:
Feasibility of applying biofilm-based wastewater treatment systems to reduce the impact of the effluents generated from industrial facilities of fish canneries located in coastal zones.
Technical and environmental performance of two biofilm based processes treating in parallel the same fish cannery effluent.
Impacts of the new treatment systems on diversity of invertebrates around the discharge point, and function of benthic assemblages compared both to the initial situation and to pristine areas.
Advantages of each biofilm process in terms of effluent quality and process robustness, considering technical, economic and environmental perspectives.
Specific features for the application of the two biofilm-based treatment alternatives and comparison with the existing treatment on site
Main outcomes and lessons learned from the project will be transferred to potential end users in other EU areas that will be identified.
Good practice manual with regard to wastewater treatment in the fish canning industry, focused on innovative processes.
LIFE SEACAN project will demonstrate the feasibility of two different biofilm-based technologies applied to fish cannery effluents. Case studies will be carried out at Conservera de Esteiro, S.A.U., located at Esteiro and belonging to Rias Baixas.
LIFE SEACAN has demonstrated the flexibility and robustness of biofilm technologies with two case studies, one based on promoting the development of aerobic granules in a SBR and the other one combining suspended and fixed growth in an innovative hybrid bioreactor
Biofilms are complex and coherent structure of cells spontaneously formed as large and dense granules or growing attached to a surface, which can be static or mobile. The implementation of biofilm-based systems increases the retention of biomass within the bioreactor, resulting in an improved volumetric conversion and easier separation from treated water.
Organic matter and oxygen diffussion along the biofilm structure promotes different environmental conditions and concentration profiles, allowing a more diverse bacteria consortium able to accomplish with different treatment pathways, i.e. nitrification and denitrification. The existence of a growth rate gradient stratifies the biofilm, promoting the inner development of slower-growing organisms well-protected from external shear forces and less likely to be lost due to detachment and/or wash-out. Therefore, there are different types of biofilm systems depending on several design aspects and process variables.
Case Study 1: Aerobic Granular BioReactor
Industrial references using aerobic granules can be found in several countries, but none of these are focused on removing the pollutants present in the effluents generated in fish processing industries. Previous lab-scale studies about the stability of an aerobic granular reactors fed with wastewater from the seafood industry showed stable performance treating organic loading rates up to 4.4 kg COD/m3·d with removal efficiencies of 90% in terms of nitrogen and organic matter with lower biomass production (reduction of 54% in comparison to conventional systems). Based on those previous experiences, a demo-scale Aerobic Granular BioReactor has been designed and built as SBR to promote the development of aerobic granules and to carry out a complete optimisation of the process variables.
Case Study 2: Hybrid Biofilm Reactor
The use of biomass grown on carrier materials have been widely used for anaerobic treatment of different highly loaded wastewaters. However, the number of references using hybrid aerobic biofilms to treat industrial wastewater is scarce, and negligible in the case of fish canning industries. In case study 2, an aerobic process has been developed in a packed bed reactor where biofilm has grown attached to carriers, integrating an additional stage where suspended and fixed biomass coexisted. This innovative configuration has provided high flexibility treating variable organic loads and excellent performance in terms of nutrient removal.
The four year investigation has come to an end with the following results:
- 80% reduction of footprint for the technology implementation, i.e compact treatment systems compared to conventional treatments, such as a conventional activated sludge (CAS).
- AGS CAPEX resulted 20-50% lower than CAS for the treatment of high strength wastewater.
- Total costs savings calculated for AGS and MBBR prototypes ranged between 49-51%, compared to the current DAF technology, including the additional investment required to renovate the plant. If only OPEX is considered, savings reach 72%.
- Important reduction in estimated environmental welfare damage in both biofilm-based technologies for the case of eutrophication.
- AGS decrease up to 74% the expected value of damage to river ecosystem and nearly 90% in the case of marine ecosystems
- MBBR decrease 65% expected value of damage to river ecosystem and 70% in the case of marine ecosystems
- The results of DOQ and Nitrogen removal for the different technologies have reached:
- MBBR system. Removal efficiency higher than 70% (COD and N) in low-strength wastewater treatment.
- AGS system. On the one hand, COD removal efficiency of 70-80% and up to 90% of total nitrogen in low-strength wastewater treatment. On the other hand, COD removal efficiency of 80-90% and between 30-40% of total nitrogen removal in high-strength wastewater treatment.
The monitoring of the benthonic ecosystem demonstrated the need to implement sustainable and effective technologies for the treatment of complex fish canning wastewaters. Biofilm-based technologies are suitable and efficient alternative systems for the treatment of biodegradable industrial wastewaters, including fish canning wastewater, dairy industry and other effluents from the food and beverage sector. The complete breakdown of results can be consulted in the Layman’s Report of the proyect.
LIFE SEACAN contributes to the achievement of EU policy with regard to Water Framework Directive and the challenges in the water sector through i) policy making, ii) technical solutions, iii) management solutions, iv) social responsibility
Actions and Progress
1. PRELIMINAR STEPS
- Characterization of industrial effluents, selection of the prototype location and selection of the carrier material for biofilm development
2. TECHNICAL ASPECTS
- Prototype design and installation in a fish canning industry
- Prototype operation an integration of results
- Process control and optimization for robustness and replicability
- Benthic ecosystem analysis to assess the effectiveness of the biofilm-based wastewater treatments
- Technical, environmental and economic assessment of the considered technologies
3. IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
- Monitoring of the effectiveness and the impact of the project actions
- Geographical and sectorial transferability assessment
- Socio-economic impact assessment
4. COMMUNICATION AND DISSEMINATION
- Design and dissemination of several communication materials.
- Environmental awareness campaign.
5. MANAGEMENT AND MONITORING
- Project management
- Networking with other projects
- After-LIFE Communication Plan
VISIT: RAÍÑA FABIOLA SCHOOL
II WORKSHOP SEACAN
WORKSHOP SEACAN + ANFACO
I WORKSHOP SEACAN
III WORKSHOP SEACAN
Events & Publications
The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value. LIFE began in 1992 and to date there have been four complete phases of the programme (LIFE I: 1992-1995, LIFE II: 1996-1999, LIFE III: 2000-2006 and LIFE+: 2007-2013). During this period, LIFE has co-financed some 3954 projects across the EU, contributing approximately €3.1 billion to the protection of the environment.
The ongoing LIFE multiannual work programme for 2014-2017 sets the framework for the next four years for the management of the new LIFE Programme 2014-2020. It contains an indicative budget, explains the selection methodology for projects and for operating grants and establishes outcome indicators for the two LIFE sub-programmes – for Environment and for Climate Action.
The total budget for funding projects during the period covered amounts to €1.1 billion under the sub-programme for Environment and €0.36 billion under the sub-programme for Climate Action.
The sub-programme for Environment covers the priority areas Environment and Resource Efficiency, Nature and Biodiversity, and Environmental Governance and Information. Each of the priority areas covers several thematic priorities, listed in Annex III to the LIFE Regulation. The present MAWP 2014-17 furthermore defines project topics implementing the thematic priorities.
The sub-programme for Climate Action offers a new and unique opportunity to support the implementation of the EU’s climate policy. Overall, it will help induce transitional change towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy in the EU, strategically underpinning the implementation of the 2020 climate and energy package and the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, and prepare the EU for the climate action challenges until 2030. It should also support better climate governance at all levels, including better involvement of civil society, NGOs and local actors.