Research into greater water efficiency in the citrus fruit sector

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Valencia-based companies IVEM (Ingeniería de Verificaciones Electromecánicas y Mantenimientos), Instalaciones Industriales Grau and the AINIA technology centre are members of a consortium for the development of sustainable, eco-efficient and secure water management solutions for the citrus fruit industry. Anecoop and the Agricultural Cooperatives of Bétera, Cheste, Oliva and Llutxent-Otos are also working in collaboration with the consortium.

The ECO3WASH project seeks to develop an innovative, eco-efficient, system to reclaim the water used for post-harvest washing of fruit so that it can be safely reused in the same washing processes. The project has a duration of three years.

The system is based on the implementation of advanced oxidation with ozone, a “clean technology” capable of breaking down organic contaminants that have proven difficult to eliminate through conventional treatment methods, even in cases of very low concentration. This type of technology is increasingly used in in the treatment of industrial water, as it is a safe, sustainable way of reclaiming water that can be used again for the same processes. The objective is to demonstrate that the new system significantly enhances the quality of the treated water.

Fruit and vegetable post-harvest washing processes are associated with high levels of water consumption, with some packhouses using 1-2 cubic meters of drinking water per hour. As a result, the washing process generates residual water that is characterized as containing organic compounds derived mainly from the utilization of fungicidal solutions for reducing production losses caused by post-harvest diseases.