The first world electro-denitrification plant to supply drinking water to a municipality is expected to start operating in Borrassà in February 2017. The plant will produce 100 m3 per day. This initiative is carried out by Hydrokemós, a spin-from the Chemical Institute of Sarrià, an important science educational institution in Barcelona. The plant is based on an innovative technology that consists in a nitrate removal process through electrochemical technology. The process also chlorinates and disinfects water.
Nitrate is not removed from water by any kind of separation: it is consumed in a reaction that yields nitrogen and oxygen which are environmentally innocuous. There is another technique, bio-denitrification, that also destroys nitrates, but is extremely sensitive to temperature and it requires heavy investment. Besides it relies on carbon sources.
“The destruction of nitrates is the main advantage of this process, existing technologies for the same purpose -ion exchange, electrodyalisis, reverse osmosis- generate waste, and electro-denitrification does not”, says Ruth Canicio, CEO of Hydrokemós.
The process of electro-desnitrification of water polluted by nitrates in Borrassà has been in a testing period for half a year and it has turned into a success. The analytical results have been certified by the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA).