Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

ICRA receives 1,376,650.92 euros from the Horizon Europe program to start four projects in the field of water

Thursday, 01 September 2022

The ICRA is part of the Centers de Recerca de Catalunya (CERCA), an institution that is in the top ten of the best funded by the European program, with 81 million euros, in second place among the National Center for Scientific Research (€149 M) and the Max Planck Society (€71 M). Horizon Europe promotes initiatives to combat climate change, contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and boost EU competitiveness and growth.

The ICRA projects that have obtained funding from Horizon Europe are SmartWaterTwin. Twinning For Smart Water- Thinking And Rethinking Wastewater Management In Circular Economy Frame (SmartWaterTwin. Twinning for smart water: thinking and rethinking waste water management in the framework of the circular economy ) with funding of 249,677.50 euros; FOCUS4PFAS. Functionalized low-cost graphene sponge electrodes for sustainable water treatment – Elisabeth Cuervo (FOCUS4PFAS. Low-cost functionalized graphene sponge electrodes for sustainable water treatment – Elisabeth Cuervo ), funded with 165,312.96 euros; DEAR-Waste. Dynamics of communities and Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance in Wastewater-Marie Rescan (DEAR-Waste. Dynamics of communities and evolution of resistance to antibiotics in waste water-Marie Rescan ) with 181,152.96 euros, and intoDBP. Innovative Tools To Control Organic Matter And Disinfection Byproducts In Drinking Water (intoDBP. Innovative tools to control organic matter and disinfection by-products in drinking water ), a coordinated project with a total budget of 3,994,707 of which 780,507.50 euros are for ICRA, which has the role of coordinator as well.

ICRA projects: circular economy, health and sustainability in water management

Jelena Radjenovic , recently recognized with the National Young Talent Research Award 2021 , is the principal investigator (IP) of the SmartWaterTwin , one of the two projects that ICRA is starting on September 1, 2022. This is a project that wants to contribute to “thinking and rethinking” the circular economy in the water sector . It aims to promote knowledge and research excellence in the field of sustainable wastewater treatment and management by increasing the scientific and technical capabilities of extension institutions. Thus, it wants to respond to a demand for innovative solutions in the water treatment sector in Serbia, which is currently insufficient even in the big cities (Belgrade, Novi Sad) and which will have to face an unprecedented demand for water due to the droughts, which are increasingly frequent and of greater intensity in this part of Europe. The project, which is part of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, wants to change the perception of waste water. The search for the SmartWaterTwin will run until August 31, 2025.

Also on September 1, the DEAR-Waste project starts, with Carles Borrego as the main researcher. The goal of DEAR-Waste is to better understand the dynamics of bacterial communities in wastewater collectors with special attention to the evolution of antibiotic resistance, establishing these urban sewers as a model to study the dynamics and the evolution of the microbiota of the waste water. The project takes an interdisciplinary approach (analytical chemistry, microbial ecology, environmental genomics, statistical time series analysis, and modeling) to quantify how environmental complexity and species interactions occurring in the sewer modulate the evolution of resistance to antibiotics The expected duration of the project is until the end of August 2024.

intoDBP is a project that plans to start on December 1 this year to be deployed until the end of 2026 and is the one with the largest financial endowment of the four. Directed and coordinated by Maria José Farré , it focuses on the protection of hydrographic basins, the transformative treatment of drinking water and real-time monitoring to combat the effects of climate and global change. In particular, intoDBP focuses on pollution and risks related to disinfection by-products (DBP) and will work on implementing and validating transversal tools in four complementary case studies in three European countries (Spain, Cyprus and Ireland). Its intention is to promote the rapid adoption of the products on a European and global scale, and to strengthen, in this way, the position and the role of Europe in the world water market. In addition, the project will engage society through surveys to analyze exposure to DBPs, collect data on watershed protection initiatives, and look to create awareness and promote sustainable consumer behavior, such as reducing consumption of bottled water.

The last of the ICRA projects funded by the Horizon Europe programme, it will start on 1 July 2023 and close in mid-2025. This is FOCUS4PFAS . Also with Jelena Radjenovic as IP, it focuses on facing the challenge of the presence of toxic, carcinogenic and bioaccumulative perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the water cycle. The goal of FOCUS4PFAS is to develop low-cost graphene sponge electrodes tailored to achieve efficient electrosorption/adsorption and subsequent electrochemical degradation of PFASs. FOCUS4PFAS will provide new opportunities for decentralized wastewater treatment, reuse and source control of contaminated waste streams.