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About the project

The Food & Drink (F&D) industry is the second largest productive sector in the EU where more than 95% of all its companies are SMEs.

The wastewater generated by these industries is characterized by having high concentrations of biodegradable organic matter.

At present, the wastewater treatment systems that are commonly used in this type of industry are aerobic treatments whose energy cost is very high due to the oxygen needs of the system. As an alternative, anaerobic treatments are proposed but, nowadays, these systems are optimized for the treatment of large flows and its high investment costs for their start-up is only profitable for large installations so this technology is unviable for SMEs due to the small amounts of wastewater they generate.

For this reason it is necessary to develop anaerobic reactors economically affordable to F&D SMEs that allow to treat their wast water efficiently,

as indicated in the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60 / EC), and to produce renewable energy by biogas to contribute to the saving of natural resources, as described in Directive 2010/75 on Industrial Emissions of the EU, and reducing CO2 emissions.
In this context, the LIFE Multi-AD 4 Agro SMEs project come up in order to provide an affordable solution to this problem based on an innovative design of  an anaerobic reactor patented by AEMA. This reactor has been specially developed for this type of industry and it
has been validated through a prototype of 100 l with wastewater from a winery. The results obtained showed a capacity to reduce the COD of the wastewater by more than 90% and high production of high quality biogas with a methane content of 80%.
m3 a volume
kg COD
m3/d treat per day
companies in the consortium

Multi-AD technological solution is industrial-scale installed in the current WWTP of AGE Winery (Fuenmayor, SPAIN). The innovative solution is based on a multi-staged anaerobic reactor with a volume of 110m 3 that has a maximum daily organic load capacity of 2,000kgCOD and is capable of treating up to 200m3 /d of wastewater.


The main objective of the LIFE Multi-AD 4 AgroSMEsproject is to develop and industrialize an innovative fully automated system for the treatment of wastewater generated by small and medium-sized companies from the Food & Drink (F&D) sector. This technology is based on the design of high-performance anaerobic multiphase reactor patented by AEMA and its production will be personalized according to the specific needs of each client.
The LIFE Multi-AD 4 AgroSMEs project will reduce both the environmental impact of F&D SMEs and the operating costs derived from their treatment and management of their wastes. In addition, compliance with the Water Framework Directive of the European Union (2000/60 / EC) and the purposes established by EIP-Water will be promoted, providing European F&D SMEs with a leading solution in line with the established global objectives for the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The main specific objectives of the project LIFE Multi-AD 4 AgroSMEsare

Design and scaling

Design and scaling at industrial level (25-500 m3) of the new anaerobic multiphase reactor from the prototype patented by AEMA  (0.1 m3)

automation of the process

Development of a new control system and automation of the process to maximize the stability of the anaerobic treatment against changes in the wastewater composition or operational conditions.

Design software

Development of a design software for the sizing of this technology according to the needs of each client.


Construction of the new multiphase reactor with a capacity of 100m3 and validation of the system in a Spanish winery.

Dissemination of project

Dissemination of project results and identification of potential final users for the implementation of the new system


B1. Fluid dynamic analysis

Modelling and scaling of the anaerobic multiphase reactor using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

B2. Control system development.

Development of a new advanced control system based on logic rules that ensures the stability of the system against changes in the wastewater composition or operational conditions

B3. New multiphase reactor on an industrial scale

Design and construction of the new multiphase reactor on an industrial scale. Design and construction of a 100 m3 unit based on the results obtained in the previous actions.

B4. System validation

Installation and validation of the new system in a Spanish winery. The action will be completed with the optimization of the treatment design.

B5.Anaerobic reactor design tool

Development of a software to design and dimension the new reactor and the wastewater treatment according to the specific needs of each client.

B6. Market launching preparation

Development of our marketing strategy, identification of potential customers and development of the detailed business plan.

C1. Monitoring of the impact of the projectactions.

Regular control and monitoring of compliance with key project indicators (KPI) to ensure the minimum possible deviation from the objectives.

D1. Dissemination and communication.

Development of strategies and communication / dissemination activities of the results and progress of the project, as well as the tools required to implement both.

E1. Project Management

Control and monitoring of administrative activities and project costs.

Expected results

The main result of the LIFE Multi-AD AgroSMEs project is the industrialization of an innovative high-performance anaerobic multiphase reactor designed specifically for its implementation in SMEs of the Food & Drink (F&D) sector.
The reactor will have a capacity between 25 and 500 m3 with a retention time of less than 20 h. This technology will ensure a reduction of more than 90% of COD and will generate a high quality biogas, containing at least 80% methane, for the production of renewable energy.
In comparison with an aerobic system. This system will reduce the energy consumption of the treatment by 13% and the cost of sludge management for an SME in the F&D sector by 57%.
The new system is presented as an economically viable solution for SMEs to access this type of technology and treat their wastewater efficiently, as indicated in the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60 / EC), and produce renewable energy from biogas to contribute to the saving of natural resources, as described in Directive 2010/75 on Industrial Emissions of the EU, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Life program

The LIFE program is the EU’s funding instrument for action on the environment and climate. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU climate and environmental legislation and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value.
LIFE started in 1992 and has four full phases of the program (LIFE I: 1992-1995, LIFE II: 1996-1999, LIFE III: 2000-2006 and LIFE +: 2007-2013). During this period, LIFE has co-financed 3954 projects throughout the EU, contributing approximately € 3.1 trillion to environmental protection.
The European Commission (DG Environment and DG Climate Action) manages the LIFE program. The Commission has delegated the implementation of many components of the LIFE program to the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). Teams of external selection, monitoring and communication provide assistance to the Commission and EASME. The European Investment Bank will manage the two new financial instruments (NCFF and PF4EE).

"LIFE17 ENV/ES/000331: With the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community.

"The content of this website reflects solely the point of view of the LIFE Multi-AD 4 AgroSMES Consortium and the European Commission is not responsible for the use that may be made of
information it contains"