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Assessment of zooplankton-based eco-sustainable wastewater treatment at laboratory scale

Dr. Teresa Serra and Dr. Jordi Colomer, together with other authors, publish the paper entitled “Assessment of zooplankton-based eco-sustainable wastewater treatment at laboratory scale” in the Chemosphere journal. This study has been conducted within the “Eco-Innovative Solutions for Wastewater Treatment and Reuse” research line of the Environmental Physics research group and within the framework of the INNOQUA EU project.

Dr. Teresa Serra and Dr. Jordi Colomer are coauthors of the paper entitled Assessment of zooplankton-based eco-sustainable wastewater treatment at laboratory scale, together with Narcís Pous and Jesús Colprim from the Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (LEQUiA) of the Institute of the Environment of the University of Girona, and Manuela Hidalgo and Victòria Salvadó from the Department of Chemistry of the University of Girona. The paper has been recently published in the CHEMOSPHERE international journal.

The authors point out that the combination of the filtration capacity of zooplankton (e.g. Daphnia) with the nutrient removal capacity of bacterial/algal biofilm in a zooplankton-containing reactor could provide a natural-based alternative for wastewater treatment.

A laboratory-scale zooplankton-based reactor was tested at different hydraulic retention times (HRTs) resulting in a significant reduction in nutrient concentrations in wastewater when the system was operated at HRTs longer than 1.1 days (preferably of between 2 and 4 days). However, the presence of high concentrations of organic matter (>250 mg COD L-1) in the wastewater inhibited zooplankton activity, limiting its use to tertiary treatment. Therefore, in combination with other natural treatments that can perform primary and secondary treatments, zooplankton may provide a solution for wastewater clarification and nutrient polishing. The effect of a common metal such as copper on the filtration capacity of Daphnia was also evaluated. Daphnia, as well as the whole zooplankton-based reactor, adapted to copper concentrations of up to 70 mg Cu L-1 but an overload of 380 mg Cu L-1 for two-weeks severely affected the biological system.

This research was carried out in the framework of the INNOQUA project, which was financially supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 689817.

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