Natural freshwater biofilms: low-cost advanced tertiary treatment for sewage waters

Mesocosms and mobile artificial substrata with natural biofilms in WWT facilities will be used
  • Grant agreement ID: 2018BP00213

  • Total project budget: 144.300€

  • Start Date: 01/12/2019

    End Date: 30/11/2022

The treatment of sewage waters has improved significantly in last decades. However, current technologies adopted in wastewater treatment (WWT) facilities generally focus on the reduction of suspended solids and organic matter to achieve the reduction of biological oxygen demand. 

The general objective of BIOTREAT is to test the efficiency of natural biofilms growing on artificial substrata to improve the removal of nutrients, CECs and AR determinants from wastewaters in order to achieve a reduction of the impacts generated by treated sewage water release into the environment. The originality and innovative concept behind this project is that those natural processes occurring in freshwater ecosystems can be used, and maximized under controlled conditions, to improve the efficiency of sewage water treatment facilities with new low-cost and user friendly technologies able to implement in small WWTPs (equivalent-inhabitants <10000), without any tertiary treatment.  

The three main steps with different specific objectives drive the BIOTREAT work plan: 

  • Confirmation that natural biofilms effectively remove nutrients, CECs and AR determinants from water column at microcosms scale under laboratory-controlled conditions. 
  • Determination the optimal conditions in which natural biofilms maximize the removal of nutrients, CECs and AR determinants from water column and will be achieved with both microcosms and mesocosms approaches under controlled conditions. 
  • Demonstration that natural biofilms could be used to improve the removal of nutrients, CECs and AR determinants from wastewaters by using mobile artificial substrata in WWT facilities.


The results of research activities planned by BIOTREAT are expected to generate the scientific bases for the development of new revolutionary low-cost and user-friendly technology able to improve the treatment of urban wastewaters reducing the levels of nutrients, microcontaminants and antibiotic resistance released into the environment. 

BIOTREAT received funding from the Postdoctoral Fellowships Programme Beatriu de Pinós, funded by the Secretary of Universities and Research (Government of Catalonia) and by the Horizon 2020 Programme of Research and Innovation of the European Union under the Marie Skłodowska-CurieGrant Agreement No. 801370.