The main objective of the VARAL project is the development of membrane technologies, anaerobic and constructed wetlands, critical for the validation of a new concept of a modular plant for the recovery of by-products and residual effluents from the dairy industry, obtaining value-added products, irrigation water and process and biogas for self-supply.
Throughout 2019, the necessary works were carried out for the construction of the integral VARAL plant in the installations of the Prestes Cheese Factory located in Villalba (Lugo).
All the treatment units that are part of the pilot plant have been built and installed: methanogenic anaerobic digester (UASB), hydrolytic anaerobic digester (HUSB), vertical wetlands, mud wetlands and nanofiltration and reverse osmosis unit.
They have also begun to carry out the characterisation and the first testing of the concentrates obtained after the nanofiltration and reverse osmosis machine, which will be for use as food compounds.
During the next year of the project, the validation of this comprehensive system for the treatment of effluents from the dairy sector will be carried out, for which different organic and water loads will be applied to optimise the best operating conditions and achieve the highest purification yields.
The redesign, integration and innovative operation of built membrane, anaerobic and wetland systems proposed by the VARAL comprehensive system will make it possible to obtain an environmentally and economically viable comprehensive system, given that the technologies are complementary and their combination minimises the disadvantages and maximises the advantages of each technology.
To tackle this ambitious challenge, a multi-sectoral consortium of five Galician SMEs has been consolidated, with the necessary skills and knowledge to encompass all the project activities:
GLAUCOR INGENIERIA is the project leader because its previous experience allows it to have a global vision of the comprehensive system proposed in VARAL.
NORVENTO ENERXIA, as an expert in anaerobic digestion and biogas production.
DAIRYLAC will contribute its knowledge of the whey recovery process and the requirements and qualities that the products obtained must meet for their subsequent sale and marketing.
INDUTEC will contribute its experience on environmental management, scaling and wastewater treatment systems in the agri-food industry.
One of the consortium’s strengths is the possibility of validating it in a real environment on a pilot scale thanks to PRESTES QUESERÍA, which will cede its facilities and collaborate in the optimisation of the pilot plant.
In addition, they have the collaboration of the AIMEN technology centre with extensive experience in R&D both in Spain and internationally.
This VARAL project, within the framework of the CONECTAPEME 2018 programme, is financed by the Government of the Autonomous Community of Galicia (Spain) through the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN) and the support of the Department of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Industry and is co-financed by ERDF Funds in the framework of axis 1 of the ERDF Galicia 2014-2020 operational programme.