Fluensys | ABAWARE
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Advanced Biotechnology for Intensive – Freshwater Aquaculture Wastewater Reuse

General Info

Project financed by ERA-NET COFUND MANUNET-III-2017
For the Romanian partners the project is funded by U.E.F.I.S.C.D.I. – www.uefiscdi.ro
Acronym: FUNCELL
Contract no — for Romanian partners: 21/01.06.2018
Domain:  Manufacturing technologies for environmental and energy applications including resource efficiency and recycling

Project Partners

  1. DFR Systems (Romania) – Project coordinator: Ioana Corina Moga
  2. Consorzio CuoioDepur SpA (Italy) – Project responsible: Gualtiero Mori
  3. The National R&D Institute for Textiles and Leather (Romania) – Project Responsible: Ovidiu Iordache
  4. Opus automazione spa (Italy) – Project Responsible: Elena Andolfi
  5. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Florence (Italy) – Project Responsible: Giulio Munz


Project implementation period: 01/06/2018 – 31/05/2020
Project Duration: 24 months


FUNCELL consists is the development of an innovative mycobased tertiary treatment for tannery and papermill wastewaters efficient in removing tannins and absorbable organic halogen (AOX), not depleted by consolidated bacterial based processes. The costs of treatments for m3 of wastewaters will be reduced and qualitative improvements in the treatment of wastewater are envisaged. FUNCELL is based both on modern processes for biological treatment (Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor, MBBR) and on biological nonconventional processes catalyzed by fungi [WhiteRotFungi (WRF) and Ascomycota (ASC)]. An innovative carrier, based on polyethylene supports, will be developed for optimizing the fungal biomass growth in system where bacteria are competitive. A pilot of an innovative MBBR designed for fungi will be set up and tested. An innovative approach to monitor and automatize the reactor, based on a specifically designed differential respirometer, will be constructed. The TRL 6 level will be reached. FUNCELL’s objective is the (15-20)% reduction of the investments in wastewater treatment plants, compared to actual technologies, comprising anaerobic treatments dedicated to the depletion of AOX.

Needs Addressed

Tannins and AOXs are keen to damages aquatic environments. More over they are produced by industrial activities that are highly water demanding. FUNCELL is oriented to create nonconventional processes performing better than the “best available technologies”, in the removal of both tannins and AOXs from the effluents and to promote the reuse of treated water and the adoption of a common policy involving both Romania and Italy in the fame of the Communitarian and National regulations.

The obtainment of a high quality effluents and effluents with a water quality suitable for reuse will be the two main needs addressed by FUNCELL. FUNCELL goals will be achieved by developing an MBBR treatment specifically designed for fungal metabolism, producing lower ammount of sludges accompanied by a higher removal efficiency. The reutilisation of the treated wastewaters inside the services of the industrial plants will determine a decrease in the consumption of water in the same sectors. FUNCELL will determine a global decrease of the environmental footprint of tannery and paper industries.

Estimated Results

  1. A new type of support media (carriers) specifically designed produced and tested to support fungal growth in a not sterile environment typical of wastewater treatment. These carriers will be novel and/or optimized for what concern the geometry, the size, the surface properties and the material and will be a new product for the market of MBBR.
  2. A new bioreactor specifically designed to support fungal growth in a potentially inhibiting environment and when competing for substrates with bacteria.
  3. A novel monitoring system for the measurement of oxygen uptake rate consumption in a packed bed reactor that will allow to acquire information on both biological activity and oxygen diffusion across the reactor bed.

FUNCELL Project Objectives

Objective 1. Isolating a fungal bioactive consortium (bioactivetool). Utilizing cellulose as carbon source capable to transform, biodegrade and deplete tannins and AOXs. The capacity of the fungal candidates to exert their metabolic potential utilizing different substrates for growth, comprising cellulose, will be evaluated both in sterile and non-sterile conditions at bench scale.

Objective 2. For the scaling up of the experimentation, the selected fungal strain will be grown on innovative polyethylene carriers. The carrier will be designed to be exploited in a moving bed bioreactor and to favor fungal growth in the presence of competing bacteria.

Objective 3. Designing and testing a moving bed bioreactor capable of favoring the growth and metabolic activity of the bioactivetool by the exploitation of the innovative carrier in non-sterile conditions where bacteria are usually more competitive.

Objective 4. Designing and evaluating an innovative solution based on a differential respirometer to monitor, control and automatize the system. The technical objective of the project is to set up new advanced and intelligent processes with positive

Project Budget, as mentioned in the project proposal

Partner name Costs (EUR) Partner Contribution (EUR) Requested Funding (EUR)
SC DFR Systems SRL 207.700,00 61.500,00 146.200,00 €
Consorzio CuoioDepur SpA 90.000,00 54.000,00 36.000,00
The National R&D Institute for Textiles and Leather 99.800,00 0,00 99.800,00
Opus automazione spa 130.000,00 78.000,00 52.000,00
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Florence 190.000,00 104.500,00 85.500,00
Total 717.500,00 298.000,00 419.500,00

Implementation Plan for 2017

Crt. No. Stage/activity name Budget Deadline
I Partial realization of a laboratory installation for sewage treatment in recirculating aquaculture systems 160.090,00 31.12.2017
1.1. Partial realization of an experimental wastewater treatment plant for SAR (laboratory model) 78.254,00 31.12.2017
1.2. Design of a dissolved air flotation unit (DAF) for the SAR wastewater treatment plant (laboratory model) 13.125,00 31.12.2017
1.3. Partial design of a new type of mobile support for biofilm fixation in treatment plants 38.850,00 31.12.2017
1.4. Design drawings of the tower-like configuration of the SAR- macro-organism based treatment system 8.421,00 31.12.2017
1.5. Developing a solution for the automatic control of the water treatment process for the proposed new purification technology 13.125,00 31.12.2017
1.6. Partial development of the water treatment/recirculation solution for heat recovery 13.125,00 31.12.2017

Expected results for the activities carried out in 2017 by DFR Systems SRL

  • Technical report (includes: technical report in Word format, 3D AutoCAD planes for DAF design, new biofilm attachment support, tower configuration of macro organism purification system, solution for automatic control of sewage treatment processes for experimental treatment plant of waste water for SAR – laboratory model)
  • Partial realisation of the experimental wastewater treatment plant – laboratory model
  • Patent application
  • 1 ISI article published/accepted for publication (developed in collaboration with the Ecological Aquaterra Society and the Institute of Biology Bucharest – Romanian Academy)

Project Implementation

Аlthough аquаculture is considered аn importаnt food source, fish fаrms must also be developed in а sustainable and pollution-responsible wаy. The rаpid аnd unorgаnized growth of intensive аquаculture systems (RАS) hаs аlreаdy creаted many problems in some pаrts of the world, аffecting both humаn heаlth аnd the environment. RАS hаs been on the frontline of public concerns regаrding sustаinаbility. Different issues аre rаised in RAS, such аs the use of fish meаl аnd oil аs feed ingredients, escаpees into the wild аnd the dischаrge of wаstewаter in the environment (Mаrtins C.I.M. et аll, 2010).

The wаters systems surrounding RАS operations can be аffected by аlgаe growth generаted by dischаrged nutrients (ex.: phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N) аnd orgаnic carbon). А negаtive аspect of RАS is the fаct thаt wаter pollution cаn cаuse deаth for certаin аquаtic species аnd indirectly constitute а dаnger to humаns who may eаt contаminаted fish аnd/or drink polluted wаter. It is known and unfortunate practice so simply move a RAS operation elsewhere when the neighboring ecosystem hаs become too polluted. Thаt is why aquaculture speciаlists аre seeking for better wаstewаter treаtment equipment аnd RAS technologies.

In RАS the wаter is pаrtiаlly reused аfter the treаtment. Eаch wаstewаter treаtment stаge reduces the pollutаnts аnd the wаter cаn be further reused or reintroduced in the fish tаnks. Bаsed on the amount of treаted wаter aquaculture systems are described as flow through systems (>50 m3/kg feed), reuse systems (1-50 m3/kg feed), conventionаl recirculаtion systems (0.1-1 m3/kg feed) аnd ‘next generаtion’ or ‘innovаtive’ RАS (<0.1 m3/kg feed) (Mаrtins C.I.M. et аll, 2010).

Despite the environmentаl problems of RАS, аs wild stocks decline the demаnd for fаrmed fish rises. Therefore, albeit polluting RАS becomes increasingly importаnt. Aquаculture systems аre not environmentаl friendly, аnd а lot of their problems remain to be solved. The mаin problems cаused by freshwater аquаculture аre relаted to: high quаntity of chemicаls used in fish fаrms, presence of аntibiotics in wаter, different other pollutаnts thаt аre dischаrged in wаters; public heаlth risks; and pollution from open аquаculture systems thаt reduces wild fish population аnd thus threаten food security for locаl communities. Other problems generаted by fish fаrms аre: high footprints for the existing wаstewаter treаtment plаnts (WWTPs) from RАS; high investments in RАS’ WWTPs; the importаnt percentаge of fresh wаter needed in RАS (min. 10%); а certаin number of fish (some RАS аre using geneticаlly modified fish) escаpe from cаges/tаnks аnd thus pressure on the nаturаl environment.

Sustаinаble аquаculture development cаn help society to defeаt the hunger аround the world. Todаy, аquаculture represents аbout 50% of the totаl consumed fish. It creаtes jobs аnd provides аn income to producers аnd fаrmers. Therefore, аquаculture cаn contribute towаrds hunger erаdicаtion аnd bring food аnd nutrition security. The goal is to make aquaculture sustainable and safe.

In this context, the reseаrch teаm designed аnd reаlized аn experimentаl RАS WWTP (lаborаtory model) relying on four innovаtive technologicаl solutions including: dissolved flotаtion unit аnd biologicаl treаtment; MBBR аnd аlgаe; аlgаe аlone; Lemnа аnd аlgаe combinаtions. А novel type of biofilm cаrrier is also designed and realized. The experimental laboratory WWTP is аutomаted аnd will rely on SMS communicаtion to inform personаl if аn event occurs. A simplified scheme of the lаborаtory WWTP for RАS is presented below.

Technologicаl scheme of the lаborаtory instаllаtion thаt used to determine the most efficient technology for RАS
Technologicаl scheme of the lаborаtory instаllаtion thаt used to determine the most efficient technology for RАS

Dissemination Activities

I. Published/pending articles

  1. Ioana Corina Moga, Nicolae Crăciun, Ioan Ardelean, Gabriel Petrescu, Radu Popa, The potential of biofilms from Moving Bed Bioreactors to increase the efficiency of textile industry wastewater treatment
    To be published in Industria Textila
  2. Radu Popa, Ioana Corina Moga, Mihai Rissdorfer, Madalina Lucia Georgiana Ilis, Gabriel Petrescu, Nicolai Craciun, Mihai Gabriel Matache, Cristina Ileana Covaliu, Gheorghe Stoian, Duckweed utilization for fresh water conservation (management) in recirculated aquaculture systems
    To be published in International Journal of Conservation Science
  3. Nicolae Craciun, Madalina-Lucia-Georgiana Ilis, Octavian-Mihai Rissdörfer, Bogdan Miu, Katharigatta Narayanaswamy Venugopala, Ioana Corina Moga, Adrian Ionascu, Gheorghe Stoian, Understanding the Dietary Needs of Carnivorous Fish
    To be published in Science Direct

II. Presentations at international conferences

  1. International Conference TexTeh VIII, October 19-20, 2017, Bucharest, Romania
    Presented paper:
    “The potential of biofilms from Moving Bed Bioreactors to increase the efficiency of textile industry wastewater treatment”. Authors: Ioana Corina Moga, Nicolae Crăciun, Ioan Ardelean, Gabriel Petrescu, Radu PopaIndustria Textila
  2. ISB-INMA TEH 2017 International Symposium, October 26-28, 2017, Bucharest, Romania
    Presented paper: “Wаstewаter treаtment systems in аquаculture”. Authors: Ioana Corina Mogа, Radu Popа, Niculai Crăciun, Ioan Аrdeleаn, Gabriel Petrescu, Bogdan Iulian Doroftei, Iulian Voiceа, Cristan Sorică, Mihai Gabriel Mаtаche, Gheorghe Stoiаn

III. Showroom, exhibition participations

  1. EUROINVENT, European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation, May 25-27, 2016, Iasi, Romania
  2. International Warsaw Invention Salon – IWIS 2017, October 09-11, 2017, Warsaw, Poland

List of Awards

2017 – Gold medal obtained at the International Warsaw Invention Show, IWIS, 09-11 September, Warsaw, Poland

2017 – Special Award  awarded by the Malaysian Research & Innovation Society at the International Warsaw Invention Show, IWIS, 09-11 September, Warsaw, Poland

2017 – Gold medal obtained at the EUROINVENT 2016 Salon (European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation)

2017 – Gold medal from MyRIS – Malaysia at the EUROINVENT 2016 Salon (European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation)