The Water Technology Centre at the water business of ACCIONA is based in Barcelona. It is the head office of our Directorate of Technology and R&D and is the heart of our research, development and innovation activities, areas to which the company has been firmly committed since its creation more than 30 years ago. This can be seen in the allocation of 1.5% of the annual turnover to R&D. This has been accredited by AENOR with its Certificate in R&D Management (UNE 166002).
At present, it has a team of 30 highly qualified and experienced individuals, dedicated to research and development applied to membrane and water technology, ranging from basic laboratory research to pilot studies and industrial applications. This is complemented with the aid of powerful computer modelling programmes using fluid dynamics (CFD), dispersion of brine waste (CORMIX) and the realisation of structural studies.
Participation in national and international research projects enables the water business of ACCIONA to work in collaboration with universities and public research centres, placing the company at the fore of the technology and confirming its position as leader in the sector.
The Technology and R&D department is an essential technical support tool. It is here where the first steps are taken towards the final design of the great desalination plants: the water to be treated is analysed, the most appropriate processes and membranes for each treatment type are studied and in situ pilot studies proposed, involving the design of pilot plants from which essential data is obtained for reliably establishing the most suitable process and the final design parameters of the installation.
The Water Technology Centre performs a significant role in the support of the operation and maintenance; minimisation of the use of reactants (anti-scaling agents, dispersant agents, etc.), module autopsies to determine the nature of their potential fouling, optimisation of the methodology for cleaning membranes. For this, the Centre also has the latest analytic and membrane characterisation techniques: module and flat membrane test equipment, chromatographic techniques (HPLC and exclusion, GC/MS chromatography), porosity characterisation, organic fouling characterisation, measurement of membrane flow potential. We also have a microbiotic laboratory equipped with the latest analytic technologies.
In addition, the Centre has a permanent pilot plant, which treats a flow of 20 m3/h. It is located in the grounds of the Tordera desalination plant and aims to validate the results obtained in the different research projects for saltwater desalination using real water. Thus we are able to study different pre-treatments, assess the operation of different reverse osmosis membranes, analyse the different configurations of the process for the elimination of Boron and the reduction of energy consumption, and lastly, a remineralisation system for the study of the final quality of the water produced.
Equally important however are the biological processes for waste water treatment; in this area we have research projects underway relating to the elimination of nitrogen in the backflow, moving-bed biofilm processes, thermophilic aerobic digestion and sludge treatment.
In addition, our programme for research into reuse covers two complementary lines of work: tertiary treatments (Tertiary Waste Water Treatment Plant in the Southeast of Gran Canaria, La Barrosa) and membrane biological reactors (MBR) of their own design (Bakio, Southeast of Gran Canaria, Almuñecar).
All this serves to make ACCIONA unique in the sector, demonstrating its vocation for innovation and contributing to sustainability in all the projects in which we are involved.