Wastewater Treatment with the Internet of Things

Research project iMETland utilizes the IoT to treat wastewater in small communities.

Overview of the iMETland project IoT system. (Image courtesy of Libelium.)

Overview of the iMETland project IoT system. (Image courtesy of Libelium.)

The iMETland research project has a simple goal: to give water a second life. The project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative, is a collaborative effort to innovate wastewater treatment in small or isolated communities. While iMETland brings together multiple partners and technologies, a critical piece of the project is a smart solution for water management, enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT).

There are three stages in the iMETland water treatment process that can be monitored and managed with IoT solutions: wastewater influent, the water requiring treatment; the iMETland biofilter, which treats the water via an integration of electroactive bacteria with electroconductive material; and lastly, disinfected effluent, the treated water that’s suitable for use.

These stages are each monitored with a Libelium Waspmote Plug & Sense! module, a solar-powered IoT node that can be configured with a variety of different sensors. Though the sensing requirements vary for the three different stages, some of the factors monitored by the Waspmote include water temperature, conductivity, pH, turbidity and dissolved oxygen content, as well as atmospheric conditions such as pressure, humidity and solar radiation.

A Waspmote Plug & Sense! module. (Image courtesy of Libelium.)

A Waspmote Plug & Sense! module. (Image courtesy of Libelium.)

After collecting the relevant data, the Waspmotes communicate with Libelium’s Meshlium IoT gateway via the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless standard. Next, the Meshlium gateway uploads the sensor data to the cloud over a 3G connection. From there, users can access and visualize the data in the iMETland dashboard, based on the IDbox data integration and business analytics platform.

“Exploiting the combination of water sector, energy, ICT (information and communication technology) and land resources, the [iMETland] project paves the way to solve small communities’ wastewater treatment needs in a cost-effective, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly manner,” said Asier González of Aqua-Consult Ingenieros, one of the partners in the project.

The iMETland project is being tested in four locations worldwide, in Argentina, Denmark, Mexico and Spain. To learn more about the project, visit the iMETland website. To learn about another innovative IoT application, check out “Upcycled Shipping Containers Are Transformed Into IoT Farms.”

Written by

Michael Alba

Michael is a senior editor at engineering.com. He covers computer hardware, design software, electronics, and more. Michael holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta.