Project progress and technological achievements

Life cycle analysis

The first stage of the planned life cycle analysis (LCA) aimed at conducting a streamlined LCA has been completed. In this initial analysis, the goal and scope have been defined as precisely as possible according to the initial knowledge obtained during the first months of the project period. Further, a preliminary life cycle inventory (LCI), has been carried out in which the relevant inputs and outputs of the NanoFloc technology in the foreground system have been identified. 

Characterisation of ENPs

Literature and laboratory investigations have been carried out by TI and Fraunhofer for identifying and characterising  the kinetics of destabilisation and agglomeration of ENPs by the NanoFloc process. The literature study has revealed the  parameters that have relevance to the NanoFloc process, and has identified process parameters that impact on ENPs dispersed in water.

In the laboratory study, two types of nanoparticles that have been identified as representative ENPs at lacquering facilities have been used. These fall into the European definition of nanoparticle (European-Comission, Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials, E. Commission, Editor. 2012: Brussels. p. 15.)  Lacquer containing these two types of nanoparticles has been synthesized and used to produce wastewater applied in the laboratory studies.

Development of the NanoFloc reactor and reaction chamber

As initial step in the development of the process reactor, a bench size reactor unit has been built for evaluating the performance of the NanoFloc process.  The laboratory tests undertaken with the bench size unit have shown promising results, with a 98% reduction of ENPs when comparing ENP concentration before and after the reactor.

Further to this, the design of the laboratory size reactor prototype, including the reactor house as well as hydraulic design and configuration of the reaction chamber has been completed. As part of the development work, mathematical modelling and computer simulation of the NanoFloc process in the reaction chamber has been carried out. The simulation showed that the electrical field is well distributed in the entire reactor geometry.  The computational fluid dynamics also showed even distribution the fluid inside the reactor, indicating negligible destruction of flocs. Trials with the designed reactor are ongoing.

Trials with the laboratory size reactor has been performed using synthetic wastewater containing different nanoparticles to charcterise the extent of nanoparticle agglomeration and removal by the reactor. A reduction of nanoparticles in synthetic wastewater up to 98% was achieved using the laboratory prototype. During the trials, the LCA tool has been used to evaluate the performance of electrocoagulation compared to chemical coagulation. Parallel with functionality tests of the reactor a separation unit has been developed based on the experience gained from tests with lacquer loaded flocs. The separation process is highly energy efficient and has given promising results.

Pilot plant

Based on the results of the trials and the experience gained from the performance of laboratory unit the pilot plant has been designed and is under construction. The pilot plant consists of an electrocoagulation, a separation unit and a process control unit.

Before final design of the separation unit, extended trials were undertaken to determine the optimum parameters using representative synthetic wastewater. The trials have shown that electrochemically produced flocs change their properties depending on the type and amount of particles they entrap. Therefore functionality tests of the pilot sized separation system will take consideration of flow rate and sensitivity on nanoparticle concentration.

Dissemination activities

The NanoFloc consortium has undertaken a number of dissemination actions including articles posted in Arvika Nyheter (local paper published in the home town of the coordinator), and in the Czech technical magazine ODPADY. In addition, the project partners have attended a number of events where NanoFloc has been presented.

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