CBGP Teams Up with Valoriza Servicios Medioambientales (Sacyr) to Improve Solid Urban Waste Treatment Processes

In the MICROUWAS-BIO project metagenomics will be used to characterize the microorganisms involved in the biodigestion of urban waste organic matter.

Treating Solid Urban Waste (SUW) to minimize its negative environmental impact has become a societal priority. This is highlighted in a number of Directives issued by both the European Parliament and the European Council, aimed at improving how SUW is treated, in order to protect, preserve and improve the environment while safeguarding human health, and all of this through a rational use of natural resources, promoting circular economy and improving energy efficiency.


A major component of SUW is organic matter which, if left untreated, has undesirable environmental effects (soil and water eutrophication, foul odors, health hazards, …). Controlled biodigestion of this organic matter results in the production of a biogas (methane, hydrogen) that can be used for energy production, thus promoting circular economy. SUW biodigestion is mediated by a specific microbiota – a complex association of microorganisms. Characterization and subsequent manipulation of this microbiota can potentially result in an increase in the efficiency of biodigestion, and hence in that of SUW treatment.

With the above in mind, we launch MICROUWAS-BIO, a collaboration project between VALORIZA SERVICIOS MEDIOAMBIENTALES, a leading environmental services company and a major player in SUW treatment, and CBGP, a leader in genomic research, with funding from CDTI (Spanish Center for Industrial Technological Development), a public enterprise under the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

MICROUWAS-BIO aims at improving biomethanization processes used SUW treatment plants through the metagenomic study of their bioreactors microbiota, and its dependence on the nature of bioreactor load and of environmental conditions. The ultimate objective is to identify and to select those microorganisms that are crucial in a process that yields both a high-quality biogas and a stabilized solid fraction (biodigestate) that can in turn be transformed into reusable compost, thus minimizing the amount of rejected residue that must end up in landfills. To that end, the microbiota of biodigestors will be monitored, both from working SUW plants, such as that in Ecoparque, La Rioja, and from a pilot biodigestor that will be deployed as part of the project in one of the SWU treatment plants operated by VALORIZA.


MICROUWAS-BIO benefits from VALORIZA’s experience in SUW treatment plant engineering and management, and from CBGP’s capacities for metagenomic and microbiota analysis, with the collaboration of BIOPROCESS TECHNOLOGY for the design and deployment of the pilot biodigestor.

MICROUWAS-BIO is an example of CBGP’s foundational compromise with the transference of its state-of-the-art know-how and technologies to help solve immediate problems faced by our society which, in view of their complexity, require the collaboration of public and private sectors, with the support of public institutions.