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VicInAqua is a medium-scale focused research project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 689427.
11 partners from 7 European and African countries aims at developing an integrated approach for water management by providing an integral, sustainable, innovative, cost effective and robust solution for water sanitation combined with the demand for clean water in aquaculture and irrigation in the Lake Victoria basin.

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VicInAqua pilot in Kisumu, Kenya successfully inaugurated

As part of our project, a pilot plant for (waste) water treatment for sustainable fish farming and irrigation was officially opened on 23 November 2018 in Kisumu, Kenya.

Lake Victoria is the largest inland water in Africa and the second largest lake in the world. It has a great importance for the neighbouring states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Its freshwater reservoir forms the essential basis for fishing, business activity and tourism. However, the entire region is currently threatened by overfishing, eutrophication due to waste water from the lake industry, the increasing number of settlements and a growing impoverishment of the local population. Due to the oversupply of nutrients, the lake is largely overgrown by water hyacinths, which displace native aquatic plants due to their rapid growth.

The inaugurated pilot plant marks the start of the testing phase to demonstrate its suitability for everyday use. The pilot plant is based on a multi-purpose filtration system, a membrane bioreactor (MBR), which can be used both as a recirculation system for fish tanks (RAS) and for waste water treatment. A novel self-cleaning membrane material was developed for use in such membrane bioreactors. Here, fine-pored membranes are used to filter the treated waste water. These new treatment units are not only very compact in size, but they also achieve a comparatively high water quality. The problem of the membrane bioreactors available so far was the formation of fouling layers on the membrane surfaces, which reduce the water flow and thus the cleaning performance. They therefore had to be cleaned with chemicals at short intervals. The newly developed membrane material showed a significantly improved fouling behaviour in laboratory operation and is now being validated in the test phase on site parallel to the previous material.

In addition to the development of an innovative filtration system, VicInAqua also developed a sensor-controlled energy supply system for semi-autonomous operation based on photovoltaics and biogas. In this way, the necessary energy can be produced sustainably and a continuous energy supply for the plant can be ensured, even in the event of power failures in the grid.

"One of the main challenges of the project lies in the development of robust and cost-effective processes that are optimally adapted to the socio-economic conditions of the Lake Victoria region", emphasises Porject Coordinator Prof. Dr. Jan Hoinkis of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences - Technology and Economics (HsKA, Germany). "Therefore, training courses for local experts and an exchange of students between the European and African partners have been and will be carried out. This year, four students from Uganda and Kenya were able to complete a two-weeks training course at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.

A video about our project can be watched here.

Source: Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences - Technology and Economics (HsKA, Germany). German article