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The aim of BIOTREAT is to develop new technologies for bioremediation of drinking water resources contaminated with micropollutants such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals. Micropollutants are organic pollutants that occur in contaminated water at extremely low concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 10 ìg/l, but still above the EU limit values. The basis of the proposed technologies is bioaugmentation, which in the present context is the introduction of specific degrading microorganisms or microbial consortia into existing sand filters at waterworks, mobile biofilters placed close to groundwater abstraction wells, sand barriers between surface waters and abstraction wells, and subterranean protective barriers established to prevent micropollutants from entering into aquifers.

Within BIOTREAT, new and much needed sustainable biotechnologies will be developed for remediating contaminated water from subterranean and surface drinking water resources. The concentration of micropollutants in such waters is usually in the µg to ng range. Knowledge of degradation processes at such low concentrations is limited, and novel approaches are needed to develop biological treatment technologies that are efficient at these low concentrations. BIOTREAT will exploit the potential of metabolic and cometabolic processes to remediate water resources abandoned or in danger of being abandoned due to the presence of low concentrations of micropollutants and thereby enable them to meet the EU quality criteria for drinking water. The technologies are expected to be superior to known treatment technologies such as activated carbon filtration, membrane filtration etc., both in relation to sustainability and to implementation costs. Our results will expand the potential of bioaugmentation and lead to the development of robust and predictable drinking water treatment that will be immediately available for the European water treatment industry through the direct involvement of four European SMEs.

The concept of the BIOTREAT technologies to be developed in this project is illustrated in the figure above. The basic idea is that specific degrading microorganisms can be introduced into various types of submerged biofilter systems, i.e., filter systems characterised by a continuous flow through of water in a water-saturated manner for example 1) existing sand filters at waterworks, 2) mobile biofilters placed close to groundwater abstraction wells, 3) sand barriers between surface waters and abstraction wells and 4) subterranean protective barriers established to prevent micropollutants from entering into aquifers. The technologies will be operationalised taking into account the physiological and autoecological characteristics of the microorganisms employed in order to ensure their reliable and efficient exploitation for removing low concentrations of organic micropollutants from contaminated drinking water resources. Within BIOTREAT technical prototypes for both metabolic and cometabolic water treatment processes will be developed including the transfer of the technolgies to pilot scale submerged biofilters at waterworks. Subsequently, other applications shown in figure 1 can be adopted based on the technical prototypes developed.


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Seventh Framework Programme
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Last modified : June 2012
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