Turning domestic wastewater into irrigation water


Grundfos BioBooster and the quest for a sustainable tomato purée

Over the past three years Grundfos BioBooster has been actively involved in a research project in Bologna Italy. It involves growing potatoes and tomatoes whilst watering them with domestic wastewater treated by Grundfos BioBooster’s Membrane Biological Reactor (MBR).

The research is part of the EU SAFIR Project (Safe and High Quality Food Production Using Low Quality Water and Improved Irrigation Systems and Management) which takes place at five different locations – and Grundfos BioBooster is among the chief participants at the Bologna site.

A single Grundfos BioBooster MBR reactor has been treating a partial stream of sewage from a local village with a daily hydraulic volume of 10 m3. The outcome of the treatment process is clean water – the level of bacteria (such as E.coli) is reduced by 99.99%, which complies with local regulations.

Studies have been conducted to compare and contrast the quality of the tomatoes and their characteristics when irrigated with different water sources:

- Grundfos BioBooster MBR-treated water
- wastewater with secondary treatment followed by sand filtration and UV disinfection, and
- tap water.

The results indicate that the tomatoes watered with Grundfos BioBooster MBR water have the highest market value per hectare tomatoes sold. SAFIR project scientists Adriano Battilani and Luca Sandei attribute that to the high sugar concentration in the tomatoes, which is due to the fact that the nutrients are retained it the water throughout the MBR’s unique filtration process. A derived benefit is that the need for additional fertilisers is diminished when the water is used for irrigation.

The impact of Grundfos BioBooster’s MBR technology in the SAFIR project is invaluable. Apart from increased market value for the crop, the concept of decentralised water reuse for irrigation purposes has been proven possible. Grundfos BioBooster MBR technology addresses the issue of water shortage with an immediate sustainable solution, so it is a concept which can be implemented in areas where lack of water poses severe threat to the economic development.

In addition to activities focusing on water reuse for irrigation in the agricultural sector, Grundfos BioBooster is also paving its way in the industrial sector, demonstrating viable solutions for water reuse in the Food & Beverage process industry.

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