Advanced Filtration TEchnologies for the Recovery and Later conversIon of relevant Fractions from wastEwater

The AFTERLIFE project proposes a flexible, cost- and resource-efficient process for recovering and valorising the relevant fractions from wastewater. It will represent an advance on existing approaches to wastewater treatment, which rely on physic-chemical and biological methods.

The AFTERLIFE process will separate out the different components of value using a series of membrane filtration units that will separate all the solids in the wastewater. These will then treated to obtain high-pure extracts and metabolites or, alternatively, to be converted into value-added biopolymers; polyhydroxyalkanoates(PHAs).

In addition to the value extracted from the solids, the remaining outflow of the water will be ultrapure and ready for re-use.

The outcome of the project will be focused on:

  • Demonstration of an integrated pilot using real wastewater from three water intensive food processing industries (fruit processing, cheese and sweets manufacturing)
  • Demonstration of the applicability of the recovered compounds and the value added bioproducts in manufacturing environments

The overarching objective of the AFTERLIFE project is to demonstrate, at TRL-5 (TRL = Technology Readiness Level), an innovative wastewater treatment that simultaneously recovers compounds of interest while converting the remaining organic matter into a high-volume added value biopolymer. Specifically, it sets out to:

  • Develop the filtration system for recovering suspended and soluble solids in wastewater by using membrane filtration units.
  • Develop the process for recovering and purifying valuable compounds in the concentrates extracted in the filtration step.
  • Develop an anaerobic/aerobic process for converting the low value-added organic matter into PHAs.
  • Optimise the resources in the process, following a circular economy approach
  • Design and optimise the AFTERLIFE process from a holistic perspective following a Multidisciplinary Design Optimisation (MDO) approach
  • Conduct a demonstration, at a pilot scale, using real industrial wastewater to generate the end products
  • Prove the economic and industrial feasibility for the AFTERLIFE process along with a comprehensive Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) and cost assessment.
  • Promote exploitation of the project’s results and expand its impact.

ACTIVITIES of Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant

  • PHA recovery: BBEPP will improve the recovery step by developing a cost-effective process for the purification of PHAs from fermentation broths to be competitive as a bioplastic in some applications
  • Integrated process design and MDO optimisation:
    • BBEPP will translate the results from the holistic mathematical model into a process design incl. a flow chart and a process and instrumentation diagram
    • BBEPP will prepare a process flow diagram for a commercial plant
  • Pilot deployment and demonstration: BBEPP will build a pilot line and assess the technical feasibility on pilot scale (equivalent to a wastewater conversion of 1 m3/d). The integrated process will be validated at pilot scale with real wastewater from the project partners


This project has received funding from the BioBased Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 745737.