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TREASURE

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Presentation

Context

TREASURE (for Treatment and Sustainable Reuse of Effluents in semiarid climates) is a scientific Euro-Mediterranean research network associating research labs and researchers from Southern Europe and Northern Africa countries about biological wastewater treatment plants and microbial ecosystems. At its origins, in 2006, the involved partners only consisted of academics from France, Algeria, Italy and Tunisia. Today, depending of the running project and of the institutions which support it, it is a network of a dozen partners of both Northern and Southern Mediterranean countries (cf. the “Partners” section). The network aims at promoting both research and education activities, the improvement and the diffusion of knowledge on bioprocesses and microbial ecosystems – notably through co-advisoring of PhDs – being among the main components of the project. Scientific seminars are regularly organized together with workshops and schools (cf. the “Workshops and seminars” section).

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Scientific objectives

The “occidental” model of water management, designed in the last century without constraints of sustainability and dominated by the growing mobilization of all available resources (supply approach) is not suitable for current issues focusing particularly on the influence of pathogens and micropollutants on the environment. Among the many options given on behalf of integrated and sustainable territorial water (demand management, etc..), an interesting solution requires a paradigm shift of water use patterns by providing a resource management including recycling. From a vision in which water is released into the environment after use and the best treatment, the time has come to study technological solutions for its reuse, particularly in agriculture. In other words, the problem is to move from a centralized treatment with discharge into the natural environment to treatment at source with water reuse. This solution has the advantage of reducing significantly the pressure exerted on the water quality whose exploitation would be limited to the PWS (Potable Water Supply). To meet this challenge, processes coupling the membrane techniques to biological process (notably the anaerobic digestion because its capability to produce valuable energy) conceived under both socio-economic and agronomic constraints appear appropriate and are particularly studied within the network. The TREASURE network aims at integrating knowledge on the modelling, the control and the optimization of biological systems for the treatment and reuse of wastewaters in countries submitted to semi-arid climates under both socio-economical and agronomic constraints within the actual context of global changes. A special focus of the actual project concerns the integration of technical skills together with socio-economical and agronomic studies for the integrated solutions developed within the network to be evaluated and tested in practice in the partner’s countries and, as possible as it may be within the context of the actual research network, valorizing these proposed technologies with the help of industrial on site in parters from South.

In terms of research, this leads to :

  • The design and the development of new processes (notably using Membrane BioReactors) able to keep the most important quantity of matter inside the reactor while assuring high depollution rates;
  • The optimization of the design and the control of actual bioprocesses and their functional heart (e.g. microbial ecosystems) through the synthesis of new nonlinear and robust control laws;
  • Investigating how plant models can be used to feedback information about the needs of plants (not only for waters but also for nutrients).

TREASURE is dedicated to the development of such research in collaboration within a Euro-Mediterranean consortium associating countries of southern Europe and Northern Africa. This may be done both in developing common research and in organizing student exchanges and schools in partner Maghreb countries.

Keywords

Modelling, reuse, anaerobic digestion, MBR, automatic control, applied mahematics, microbial ecosystems…