The ZELDA project (“Zero Liquid Discharge Desalination: brine treatment based on electrodialysis metathesis and valuable compounds recovery”) is co-funded by the European Union Life+ programme. The objective of the project is to develop a new process for the treatment of brine from seawater and brackish water desalination. In order to achieve the proposed objectives, the project partners include large companies operating in the water  sector, such as Abengoa, Fujifilm, the European Water Platform (WssTP) and the Fundació CTM Centre Tecnològic.

The challenge of managing brine from desalination plants

There has been increasing concern about water scarcity in recent years. At least 11% of the population of Europe and 17% of its territory has been affected by water scarcity and this situation is expected to worsen as a result of climate change.

Seawater and brackish desalination is currently considered to be one of the best options to combat water scarcity. Desalination is carried out in 150 countries worldwide and 16,000 desalination plants are currently producing freshwater.

Desalination plants generate large volumes of concentrates, also known as brines, which contain the components that have been retained in the process. The most common way of dealing with these brines is discharge into water masses, which has a significant environmental impact at the point of reception, such as a decrease in flora and salinity, temperature and alkalinity gradients.

The objective of the ZELDA project is to develop a new process for the treatment of brines from seawater and brackish water desalination in order to enable these effluents to be managed in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner. The results of the project will provide a clear benefit for Europe as a whole, especially those areas, such as the Mediterranean region, with severe water stress. In this way, the impacts of climate change will be tackled without threat to the environment.

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Sandra Meca, Xavier Martínez
Fundació CTM Centre Tecnològic.