Innovative wireless tool for reducing energy consumption and GHGs emission of water resource recovery facilities.

Newsletter n.1



Water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) are characterized by a high energy demand most of which is due to aeration of oxidation tanks. Aerobic activated sludge processes are the most used technology for wastewater treatment. Therefore, the optimization of the oxygen transfer process can significantly reduce energy costs and carbon footprint (CFP). The main objective of the LESSWATT project is the development of an innovative tool for assessing and minimizing both direct and indirect contributions to CFP of aerated compartments in WRRFs.

The innovative solution is composed of an instrument (LESSDRONE) for monitoring the oxygen transfer efficiency (OTE) and GHGs emissions from the aerated tanks in operating conditions, and a user-friendly protocol for converting complex process information in actions aimed at minimizing WRRFs CFP and energy demand. LESSDRONE is an automated, wireless and self-moving device. All the instrumentation will be on board. The automated character of LESSDRONE will make possible to fully monitor all areas of the tank, to reduce personnel requirements and to monitor the OTE and the GHGs anytime. The innovative technology foresees the implementation of a protocol, a model based user-friendly tool, which integrates data from the LESSDRONE, processes information and external inputs, and translates these in applicable actions aimed at minimizing CFP footprint. The tool will be applicable to all WRRFs using biological processes equipped with diffused aeration systems.
The innovative tool will be developed at CUOIODEPUR WRRF located in S.Miniato (Pisa, Italy), one of the most important European tannery district. The LESSDRONE will be implemented and optimized during the project activity in 3 Italian and 2 north European WRRFs, covering a range of wastewater treatment technologies as wide as possible, in order to realize a protocol easily applicable to a wide range of technologies and environments. The applicability and the suitability of the innovative tool will represent a crucial issue of the project in order to ensure the transferability to other WRRFs also operating in different contexts and industrial sectors.

To date, after nine months from the beginning of the project, the preparatory phase (actions A1 and A2), fundamental for the design and construction of the LESSDRONE prototype and the protocol for the minimization of the carbon footprint of the aeration compartment was completed.
A1. Test WRRF characterization
In this action, the test plant of Cuoiodepur was deeply characterized in terms of hydraulic flows and physical chemical characteristics. The data of the last three years were analysed and integrated with the data collected in the three monitoring campaigns that were carried out in different periods of the year in order to cover a range of environmental and operating conditions as wide as possible. The attention has been focused on the oxidation tanks. The following analysis\measures were carried out: biomass characterization, DO and air flow distribution in the tanks, hourly variation of inlet and outlet pollutants concentrations, temporal and spatial distribution of the off gases produced in the oxidation tanks. Preliminary tests were also carried out in order to assess kinetics and stoichiometric parameters necessary for the process modelling.

A2. Survey on Italian, Belgian and Dutch WRRFs
In this action, the WRRFs characteristics that could influence the prototype design and development were assessed. This evaluation was carried out through a survey collecting information about the design of Italian and European WRRFs and through monitoring campaigns in 5 selected WRRFs. The survey was designed and implemented online: the system collected about 50 answers. The responses provided useful information for the design of the prototype and for the protocol development, ensuring their applicability in a large number of WRRFs. The field monitoring activity was carried out on 5 selected WRRFs, 3 in Italy (S. Colombano in Tuscany, Sestri Ponente in Liguria and Roma est in Lazio) and 2 in The Netherlands (Eindhoven and Tillburg). During the monitoring activity, the plants were characterized in terms of wastewater quality, process technology, aeration systems and control strategy adopted. Data collected in this action are necessary both to optimize the LESSDRONE prototype design, and to refine the protocol development. All the gathered information contributes to the possibility of implementing both the prototype and the protocol in a wide range of WRRFs.

The project was promoted through five press releases, two didactic visits at the CUOIODEPUR WRRF, a launch conference and a first workshop. 1500 brochures in Italian and English and a website which contains all the information related to the project ( were also produced. To date, 4 permanent collaboration agreements have been signed with LIFE projects (REMIDA, DENTreat, BITMAPS, WEEE) on issues related to the LESSWATT project. Contacts with the academic and research world, with institutions, the public and private water sector and the producers of technologies for environmental monitoring, have been activated, to guarantee an ongoing discussion on the strategies to be carried out for energy consumption and carbonfoot print minimization.

To follow the progress of the project and the initiatives promoted, we invite you to consult the website ( For detailed information on technical activities, please send an e-mail to the following address:
Contact: Cecilia Caretti
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (DICEA)
University of Florence - Via S.Marta, 3 – 50139 Florence, Italy
Tel. +39 055 2758850
Copyright © 2018 Lessawatt Project, All rights reserved.

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