Researchers: New Water Purification Technology Could Offer Advantages Over Conventional Methods

Researchers with Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands) announced on June 26 they have developed a compact and environmentally friendly purification method, a new aerobic granular sludge technology.

An important part of the project's success was the work of Delft researcher Merle de Kreuk, who, on June 27, received her PhD degree based on this research subject, university officials announced.

With the new aerobic granular sludge technology (Nereda TM), aerobic (thus oxygen using) bacterial granules are formed in the water that is to be purified. The great advantage of these granules is that they sink quickly and that all the required biological purifying processes occur within these granules, according to the researchers.

The technology therefore offers important advantages when compared to conventional water purification processes. For example, all the processes can occur in one reactor. Moreover, there is no need to use large re-sinking tanks, such as those used for conventional purification, the researchers said. Such large tanks are needed for this because the bacteria clusters that are formed take much longer to sink than the aerobic granule sludge.

According to Delft PhD researcher Merle de Kreuk, a Nereda TM purification installation needs only a quarter of the space required by conventional installations. Moreover, Nereda TM uses 30 percent less energy than the normal purification process. This Nereda TM purification process is suitable for both domestic and industrial wastewater.

The aerobic granular sludge technology is promising, and has been nominated for the Dutch Process Innovation Award 2006, university officials said. The technology is now in the commercialization phase. In the coming years, De Kreuk will continue to contribute to the project's trajectory as a Delft researcher. DHV is currently negotiating with water purification companies to test this purification method on a larger scale. The first installations are already in use in the industrial sector.

Merle de Kreuk: http://www.biofilms.bt.tudelft.nl/group.html (scroll down for contact information)

Delft University of Technology: http://www.tudelft.nl

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