a) a) Transformation of end-of-life reverse osmosis membranes for their reuse in low pressure ultra-nanofiltration processes.
  • At pilot scale 54 membranes (coming from 14 different desalination plants) have been transformed, obtaining a recycled membrane stock of 41 membranes in the passive system (14 nanofiltration membranes and 27 ultrafiltration membranes) and 13 recycled ultrafiltration membranes in the active system.
  • The implementation of recycled UF and NF membranes were validated in three different applications:
    1. Brackish water desalination using recycled NF membranes. Totally 12 NF recycled membranes were placed in real pressure vessels at the desalination plant of Cuevas del Almanzora. The recycled membranes showed stable flux after 15-30 days of filtering time.
    2. Pre-treatment process before RO step in desalination using recycled UF membranes. 6 recycled UF membranes of different models were evaluated as pretreatment step for sea water desalination at the Muchamiel desalination plant. Brackish water models showed to have better membrane performance in terms of flux and energy saving.
    3. Urban wastewater tertiary treatment using recycled UF membranes. 6 recycled UF membranes of 3 different models were evaluated in the wastewater treatment plant of Guadalajara. The regenerated water obtained reached the quality required by the Spanish legislation for water reuse (RD 1620/2007).
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was used to evaluate the environmental balance of membrane recycling:
    1. End-of-life RO membrane recycling shows lower environmental impact than producing a new membrane module.
    2. Carbon footprint and fossil fuel consumption during the production of recycled ultrafiltration/nanofiltration membranes is 40-60 times smaller than in the production of new commercial membranes.
    3. Water consumption during the recycling process is 20 times smaller than the water consumed during the preparation of a new commercial membrane.
b) Economic and financial feasibility study of the optimal solutions arisen from the project.
  • The economic and financial feasibility study of both pilots (passive and active) reinforces the implementation of the passive system as it shows to have smaller environmental impact and lower cost per membrane unit.

social results

  • Generation of a proposal for a new reference document for best available techniques for recycling of reverse osmosis filtration membranes.
  • Publication of every obtained result and project scale in scientific papers and dissemination at national and international congresses.
  • Guidelines for recycling and reuse of old reverse osmosis membranes.
  • Public access to the Web and social networking sites
  • Inclusion of the membrane recycling and reuse practical experiences in university academic programmes (university careers and master) as an example of sustainable management of natural resources.
  • Achievement of dissemination activities in the framework of European programmes: Science Week, Researchers' Night.