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Cost-effective biological wastewater treatment

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
For the Turkish partner the project is funded by TÜBİTAK – www.tubitak.gov.tr/en/
Contract no — for Romanian partners: 214/01.03.2018
Domain: Manufacturing technologies for environmental and energy applications including resource efficiency and recycling

Project Partners

  1. DFR Systems (Romania) – Project coordinator: Gabriel Petrescu
  2. ARGES ARITMA MAKİNA LTD. ŞTİ. (Turkey) – Project responsible: Ahmet Isitman
  3. University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest (Romania) – Project responsible: Octavian Dontu


Project implementation period: 01/03/2018 – 28/02/2020
Project Duration: 24 months


The main objective is to deliver a solution capable of achieving great energy savings in WWTPs with minimum costs. A new type of aeration system based on diffusers with high endurance and reliability made from corrosion resistant metals will be developed. Several fine bubble diffusers (with 0.3 0.5 mm apertures) will be realized with an unconventional method (electroerosion) and tested in laboratory conditions. After this stage, the best aeration system will be tested in situ in 4 WWTPs (2 in Romania and 2 in Turkey) and the efficiency of the dissolved oxygen mass transfer will be determined. The new type of diffuser will be tested in 2 Conventional Activated Sludge (CAS) WWTPs and in 2 WWTPs that has implemented the Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) technology. An ultrasound system will be mounted, on each aeration system, to prevent diffusers clogging. Furthermore, a new shape and material will be proposed for the realization of biofilm carriers to increase the biological treatment efficiency.

Needs Addressed

The power consumption in urban and industrial WWTPs has increased considerably during last decades due to the higher volume of treated wastewater. Energy consumption is the largest budget item of a European WWTP.

The energy demand in this sector will probably increase in the near future because of population growth and because of the need to comply with stricter European regulations in the field of water treatment, generating more energy intensive processes. Furthermore, the generation of greenhouse gasses (GHG) has become important for wastewater treatment. So, CEBIOTREAT is addressing to this general problem of power consumption in WWTPs and try to minimize the negative effects on the environment. Beside the power consumption, another widespread problem of the WWTPs with fine bubble diffusers is related to their maintenance.

Maintenance activities for elastomer diffusers should be monthly and yearly scheduled as follows:

  1. Monthly. Increase the air flow to the diffusers 2 to 3 times normal for about 15 minutes to blow out the biological growths that have accumulated around the diffuser orifices. As a result, the power consumption is greater.
  2. Yearly, or as conditions warrant. Diffusers that are allowed to remain in a defective condition reduce the diffusers’ effectiveness and will result in inefficient wastewater treatment. Also, an increased efficiency of the biological stage, due to the new biofilm carrier, will lead to a reduced footprint for the entire WWTP.

Estimated Results

  • 10 types of air diffusers (with 0.3-0.5 mm apertures) made from corrosion resistant metals
  • 1 ultrasound system to prevent diffusers clogging
  • 1 automation system
  • 1 new shape and material will be proposed for the realization of biofilm carriers to increase the biological treatment efficiency
  • 2 patent requests
  • 2 ISI articles published/accepted for publishing

CEBIOTREAT Project Objectives

The main purpose of CEBIOTREAT is to reduce the energy consumption in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) by 20% for conventional activated sludge WWTPs and by 40% for Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) WWTPs and to increase the efficiency of the biological stage.

A new type of aeration system based on fine-bubble diffusers with high endurance and reliability made from corrosion resistant metals will be developed.  The diffusers will be realized using electroerosion.  Also, CEBIOTREAT proposes a new automation solution for the aeration system, with mobile phone control. The diffusers will be designed to be use in all biological treatments, especially for the MBBR process, first developed in Norway (Ødegaard, 2013). The fine-bubbles diffusers will be also tested for conventional activated sludge WWTPs. The MBBR process needs a special aeration system because the biofilm carriers are floating inside the wastewater mass and butting the aeration system. More than that a new type of biofilm carrier will be designed and tested together with the new aeration system. The new biofilm carrier, proposed by CEBIOTREAT, will lead to an increase efficiency of the biological treatment stage.

In conclusion, the overall aim of CEBIOTREAT is to deliver a solution capable of achieving energy savings in WWTPs with minimum costs together with an increased biological treatment efficiency.

Project Budget as Mentioned in the Project Proposal

Partner Name Costs
Partner Contribution
Requested Funding
SC DFR Systems SRL 181.068,00 54.228,00 126.840,00
ARGES ARITMA MAKİNA LTD. ŞTİ. 171.575,00 42.894,00 128.681,00
University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest 88.160,00 0,00 88.160,00
TOTAL 440.803,00 97.122,00 343.681,00

Project Implementation

The project implementation is done according to the Consortium Agreement. The purpose of the consortium agreement is to specify the relationship among the Partners, in particular concerning the organization of the work between the Partners, the management of the Project and the rights and obligations of the Partners regarding the project and the results of the CEBIOTREAT. The project works and the responsibilities for the tasks of each Partner are to be arranged as agreed in the Project Plan.

DFR Systems SRL, as the Coordinating Partner and will be responsible for the project management in accordance with the Manunet Guidelines.

The air diffusers were designed and realised. During the first step the diffusers were designed using specific CAD software. The air diffuser was conceived as being formed from 2 main parts: a perforated plate and a cassette (box/case). This method was used because during the experimental research, not all 10 diffusers will be tested at the same time, and the achievement of a small number of carcasses is sufficient. To ensure fund savings only few cassettes will be realized and, depending on the experiments only the perforated plates will be exchanged.

The three-dimensional CAD model of the plate with micro-orifices is represented below as well as the 3D CAD model of the diffuser box.

The channels were processed by milling and the micro-orifices by CNC drilling.

For the diffuser cassette execution, it can be used modern technologies by adding material – fused deposition modelling (FDM). Additive technologies can bring considerable advantages, with help of which it possible to realize functional parts in a relatively short time and with a low price. The material used was PLA (polylactic acid), which is ecological and biodegradable.

Diffusers designed within DFR Systems SRL

Also, air diffusers made from 100% staineless steel were designed and realised. The authors designed the carcass and plates with AutoCAD in 2D and 3D.

In order to investigate the holes made, the microscopic method was used. For this purpose, the Olympus GX-51 microscope was used, which is an inverted metallurgical microscope with the possibility to perform researches in several modes and modes.

Using the microscope program, the mean diameters were measured, showing the difference between the theoretical and measured diameters.

Theoretical nominal diameter
Average measured diameter
Relative error
0.1 0.10462 4.62
0.5 0.485 3
0.7 0.69094 1.29
0.9 0.89692 0.34

Comparison between theoretical nominal and measured diameters

Instalația experimentală dezvoltată de către DFR Systems SRL a fost montată în cadrul unei stații municipale de epurare din judetul Călărași. Instalația experimentală a fost montată în paralel cu bazinul aerob al stației de epurare existente. În figura de mai jos se prezintă stația de epurare existentă la Dragalina.

The wastewater treatment plant from Dragalina, where the experimental installation was connected

The following pictures show the different stages of the installation process of the experimental tank. The experimental installation was mounted in parallel with the first existing aerobic basin from the municipal wastewater treatment plant. Thus, the wastewater supply of the experimental installation was achieved by installing a submersible wastewater pump within the anoxic basin. In this way, from the anoxic tank of the municipal wastewater treatment plant, both the aerobic tanks (of the existing plant and of the experimental installation) were fed.

Pictures taken during the installation and testing of the experimental installation

Two types of determinations were realised:

  • Determination of dissolved oxygen level
  • Determination of the main water quality indicators

During the 2 years of implementation, the partners achieved the initial objectives proposed, the project ending with the design, implementation and testing of a new aeration system to be used in Mobile Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) treatment plants. The aeration system has proven to be more energy efficient compared to the current system used by DFR Systems SRL, but also to other aeration systems on the market.

Dissemination Activities

Main Dissemination Activities Mentioned in the Project Proposal

  1. CEBIOTREAT webpage
  2. Participation in symposia and conferences
  3. ISI rated articles
  4. Articles publishing in scientific journals
  5. Patent request
  6. Project poster

Dissemination Activities

I. Papers published/accepted for publication

  1. Ioana Corina MOGA, Ioan ARDELEAN, Octavian Grigore DONȚU, Cristina MOISESCU, Nicolae BĂRAN, Gabriel PETRESCU, Iulian VOICEA, Materials and technologies used in wastewater treatment, IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, Volume 374, conference 1

II. Presentations at international conferences

  1. International Conference on Innovative Research, May 17-18, 2018, Iasi, Romania
    Presented poster: Materials and Technologies Used in Wastewater Treatment. Authors: Ioana Corina MOGA, Ioan ARDELEAN, Octavian Grigore DONȚU, Cristina MOISESCU, Nicolae BĂRAN, Gabriel PETRESCU, Iulian VOICEA

III. Showroom, exhibition participations

  1. EUROINVENT, European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation, May 17-19, 2018, Iasi, Romania

  1. INVENT ARENA, International Inventors Exhibition, June 20-22, 2018, Třinec, Czech Republic

List of Awards

2018 – Silver Medal at Invent Arena, 20-22 June 2018, Třinec/WERK ARENA, Czech Republic
2018 – Special Award from Association of Polish Inventors and Rationalizers at Invent Arena, 20-22 June 2018, Třinec/WERK ARENA, Czech Republic
2018 – Silver Medal at European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation, 17-19 May 2018, Iasi, Romania