The Life Desirows project has verified the effectiveness and viability of up to seven desalination and denitrification technologies to recover subsoil water from the Cartagena countryside for agricultural use, with high salinity and nitrates, without generating waste and using exclusively renewable energies: photovoltaic, biomass and wind for drying processes.

The results of the Life Desirows project, led by the company Regenera, and in which the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, the Arco Sur Mar Menor irrigation community, Hidrogea and Hidrotec also participate, have been disclosed during the European Green Week: https:/ / and the European Sustainable Energy Week that is being held in June 2024. The project, which concludes this June, has also been audited this week.

This European project, made up of local partners, “faces a problem that is very close to us in the Region of Murcia, but that with climate change other parts of the world will also suffer, so we anticipate solutions,” highlights the UPCT researcher. , Juan García Bermejo, recalling the “growing interest” in non-conventional water resources to alleviate recurrent droughts.

The objective has been to maximize the use of the water resource, with values ​​greater than 92% of recovered water, minimize energy consumption and the cost for farmers, avoid the emission of greenhouse gases and discharges into the Mar Menor, as well as eliminate waste through the crystallization of the brine, so that the resulting salts are reusable as a by-product for the industry. “It is part of circular economy strategies,” highlights García Bermejo.

To demonstrate that it is possible to eliminate brine and nitrates from well water in the Cartagena field using renewable energy and at an affordable cost, the researchers have combined up to seven reverse osmosis technologies with state-of-the-art membranes, denitrification with bioreactors in series, cooling tower, mechanical vapor compression and atmospheric evaporation using parallel fabrics to reduce the necessary surface area. Together they have managed to treat up to 20 cubic meters of water per day in the pilot plant installed at the Arco Sur Mar Menor facilities, with the equipment operating for about ten hours a day.

The researchers have calculated the different electrical consumption for each combination of technologies and conclude that the option that requires the least installed power is the use of reverse osmosis and atmospheric evaporation, with identical consumption data, 4 Kwh/m3, to those of seawater desalination.

In Life Desirows (LIFE19 ENV/ES/000447), led by the company Regenera, several researchers from the UPCT participate, such as Juan García Bermejo, Antonio Vigueras Rodríguez and José María Carrillo, from the School of Roads and Mines; Francisco Vera, Ángel Molina and María Socorro García Cascales, from Industrial Engineering and Rafael Domingo, from Agrónomos, with outstanding experience in electrical engineering, renewable energies, thermal engineering and fluids and water treatment.

The Life-Desirows budget obtained funding of 867,000 euros from the European Union.

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