Resource recovery at dairy factory in Turkey: pilot and feasibility study

LeAF, BV watersolutions (part of BrinkVos Water BV) and ees-International are executing the project Introduction of natural, plant based systems (“Constructed Wetlands”) for treatment of wastewater from agro and food industries in Turkey.

This project is co-funded by the Dutch Government as part of the third Partners for Water programme. LeAF is the overall project coordinator. The cooperation between LeAF, BV watersolutions and ees-International creates a partnership that enables the recovery of resources from, and tertiary treatment of, waste(water) in a cost-effective way. The partnership results in complementary knowledge, experience and technologies. Cooperation in this project will ensure that resources (Energy, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Organic Carbon and Water) contained in dairy factory wastewater and manure from cattle farms in Uluabat, Turkey, can be recovered and re-used, thereby lowering process, treatment and discharge costs.

One of the leading companies in the Turkish dairy sector, the Sütaş group, has a dairy factory in Uluabat, Karacabey. A 1900 m3 digester has been constructed at this factory to produce biogas and electricity (2.2 MW), and steam for internal use while treating the manure of the 18,000 cows it owns. The digestate is currently separated into a solid and liquid fraction. The solid fraction is sold as a compost to neighbouring farmers while the liquid fraction is treated in the factory’s wastewater treatment plant. This not only results in a loss of income, as the solid fraction is sold at a low rate, but also loss of resources such as nutrients and water and risk of environmental pollution, with resultant fines, as the wastewater treatment plant is operated beyond its capacity.

In November 2014 BV watersolutions (part of BrinkVos Water BV) built two pilot constructed wetlands at the factory site. This pilot will test the feasibility of using constructed wetlands to treat the liquid fraction of digested cow manure prior to discharge. One of the two constructed wetlands has been equipped with an innovative aeration system that is designed to enhance the removal of organic matter. The constructed wetlands are currently in their start-up phase.  

LeAF is conducting a feasibility study to assess the potential for phosphorus recovery from the liquid fraction. This phosphorus, which is a finite resource essential for agricultural production, can then be mixed and sold with the solid fraction as a high-phosphorus organic fertilizer, thus increasing the value of the organic fertilizer. Phosphorus recovery will also result in lower nutrient concentrations in the effluent from the constructed wetlands, thus making it more suitable for reuse or discharge to the environment. Based on the feasibility study a pilot to recover phosphorus from the liquid fraction may be started within the project.

Contact Tiemen Nanninga for more information on this project.