Havana, Cuba, 02 Apr 2015

Wastewater treatment milestone in Cuba

A state-of-the-art system for the treatment/purification of food processing industrial wastewater for water reuse was inaugurated in Cuba last month. The system falls under the framework of the project "Strengthening the Cuban Food Production and Aquaculture Sector through Resources Optimization and Recovery" (Proyecto REAL: Recuperación para la Alimentación).

Membrane filtration system

An ultra-modern unit for the treatment of food processing industrial wastewater, a Membrane Bioreactor (MBR), was procured and installed at the facilities of the Food Industry Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones para la Industria Alimenticia - IIIA) in Havana, Cuba. 

This was the first time in Cuba that such state-of-the-art technology for the treatment and purification of wastewater aiming at water reuse was incorporated. The system consists of biological wastewater treatment processes provided with a submerged ultra-filtration membrane filtration system (MBR system). 

The MBR system incorporates the newest ideas and features in wastewater treatment that may allow producing a treated effluent with an excellent quality ideal for its subsequent reuse. This technology will be evaluated for the first time considering the local conditions in Cuba aiming at reusing the treated water for either industrial or agricultural applications. The introduction of this technology at a demonstrative scale represents a milestone in the wastewater treatment arena in Cuba.

High-tech laboratory equipment

As a part of the inauguration event, high-tech laboratory equipment for conducting high quality analytical determination of both raw and treated industrial wastewater was incorporated at the laboratory premises at the same Food Industry Research Institute (IIIA). 

The analytical equipment was carefully selected by the laboratory experts at UNESCO-IHE. This equipment will allow the Cuban partners to conduct high quality analytical determinations of the characteristics of industrial effluents produced at selected food processing industries in Cuba. Knowing the characteristics of the effluent discharges is the first step for allowing an in depth evaluation of the existent (and future) wastewater treatment plants located at the food processing industries. 

The wastewater treatment plant evaluations aim at improving the performance of the wastewater treatment system at the food processing industries for reusing resources such as water and nutrients in the framework of the project.

As a part of this project, and as a preparation for the proper operation of both the MBR system and the laboratory equipment, Cuban professionals affiliated with the Food Industry Research Institute (IIIA) and participated in several advanced training activities carried out in the Netherlands and Croatia.

Inauguration ceremony

The inauguration ceremony was attended by representatives from the UNESCO Regional Office for Cuba, the Cuban Ministry of Food, the Food Industry Enterprises Group (Grupo Empresarial de la Industria Alimentaria - GEIA), several food processing industries, among other prestigious and well regarded authorities.

About the project

Proyecto REAL is led by UNESCO-IHE, in cooperation with the Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology (PBF), Croatia, and Cuban partners: IIIA, GEIA, and Aquaculture Technology Development Enterprise (EDTA). The project is primarily funded by the European Union with co-funded provided by UNESCO-IHE and has a total duration of 48 months starting on March 2013 and finalizing in 2017.

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