LIFE Project Cover Photo

Innovative Secondary Wastewater Treatment with REsource REcovery

Reference: LIFE17 ENV/ES/000341 | Acronym: LIFE GREEN SEWER



Wastewater, whether from municipal or industrial sources, contains various pollutants, primarily: solid debris and grit; greases; organic matter (suspended and dissolved solids); nutrients; pathogens; and emerging contaminants. If not managed correctly, such wastes discharged into water bodies can degrade aquatic ecosystems and increase toxicity and water stress.

Although installation of wastewater treatment plants to handle wastewater is an obligation in the European Union, most plants are not designed to recover energy and resources from wastewater. They are also not designed to monitor and remove emerging contaminants. At the same time, a major challenge for wastewater treatment in the EU is to cut treatment plant operating costs and energy consumption (and thus carbon footprints). Depending on treatment plant size and technology, average operating costs are ?0.20-0.40 per cubic metre of wastewater, with secondary treatment being the most expensive stage of the process.


The LIFE GREEN SEWER project will design, build and operate a pilot system that will treat 12 cubic metres/day of primary effluent at two wastewater facilities: in Muros (Galicia, Spain) and Abrunheira (Mafra, Portugal).

The system will involve a new secondary wastewater treatment process to reduce the presence of pathogenic microorganisms and emerging contaminants. The process will involve Forward Osmosis-Reverse Osmosis preconcentration (FO-RO) as well as an Anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) with ultrafiltration membranes. The process will be capable of recovering biogas, reusable treated water as well as a nutrient rich stream from wastewater, in line with circular economy principles, while cutting energy consumption and water losses. The process?s environmental, social and economic impact will be estimated, and the new process will be promoted as an alternative secondary wastewater treatment. It is expected the process can reduce the costs of secondary treatment of wastewater.

The project will contribute to improved wastewater treatment in the EU and will help with the implementation of Directive 2013/39/EU, which aims to tackle pesticides and other priority substances in water.

Expected results:

  • Production of biogas and reduced energy consumption in wastewater treatment plants so that net energy consumption falls by 70 %, from 31 kWh per inhabitant-equivalent per year to less than 10 kWh per inhabitant-equivalent per year;
  • A reduction in wastewater treatment costs of 30 % or more to ?0.25 or less per cubic metre;
  • Reduction of the microbial content of water using membrane filtration techniques;
  • Reduction by 70 % of emerging contaminants for at least 90 % of the relevant compounds present in purified reusable water;
  • Reduction in the water lost during the treatment process to less than 1% of the volume of incoming wastewater;
  • The production in the pilot plants of more than 3500m³/year of reusable water for irrigation and similar purposes, equalling recovery of 80 % of the flow rate of incoming wastewater;
  • A 60 % reduction in sludge produced in wastewater plants, leaving less than 0.06kg of total suspended solids per cubic metre of wastewater;
  • The production of between 700-900 cubic metres/year of a side-product rich in nutrients with suspended solids removed;
  • The results from the two pilot sites will be the basis of a replicability and transferability guide and a business plan;
  • Broader benefits in terms of the reduction of air pollutants (volatile organic compounds, nitrous oxides, carbon dioxide), which are released from sewage sludge and the higher energy consumption associated with current wastewater treatment practices.


    Reference: LIFE17 ENV/ES/000341
    Start Date: 01/09/2018
    End Date: 31/08/2021
    Total Budget: 1,752,612 €
    EU Contribution: 1,043,783 €
    Project Location:
    Project Website:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Fundacin Centro Tecnolgico de Investigacin Multisectorial
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: Ra As Carballeiras s/n, Edificio CICA, 1, Campus de Elvia, 15071, A Corua,
    Contact Person: Lucía Camino VAZQUEZ PRADO
    Tel: 34881105624

    LIFE Project Map



    • Waste water treatment


    • use of waste as energy source
    • waste water treatment
    • emission reduction
    • waste reduction
    • water reuse
    • reverse osmosis
    • industrial waste water
    • water quality
    • water pollution
    • urban wastewater
    • energy efficiency
    • resource conservation


    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • Directive 91/271 - Urban waste water treatment (21.05.1991)
    • Directive 2008/105 - Environmental quality standards in the field of water policy (16.12.2008)


    Name Type
    Fundacin Centro Tecnolgico de Investigacin Multisectorial Coordinator
    Sociedad Anónima de Obras y Servicios COPASA S.A., Spain Participant
    Socamex S.A.U., Spain Participant
    Universitat de Barcelona, Spain Participant
    MAGTEL OPERACIONES S.L.U., Spain Participant