Database of Waste Management Technologies Life

Case Study 17 – Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) with AD & IVC composting


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Name: Ecopark 2 Anaerobic Digestion Facility case study 17

Ecopark 2- Barcelona

case study 17

Ecopark 2- Barcelona

case study 17

Ecopark 2- Barcelona

Owner: Barcelona’s Metropolitan Environmental Agency
Operator: Ecopark Besos SA
Technology: AD
Designed Capacity: 240,000 tpa (installed capacity 120,000 tpa (AD capacity)
Cost: [1]$76.6 million (Project Budget)
$ 68.4 million (Capital cost of AD)
Location: Montcada i Reixax
Barcelona, Spain
Served Area: Eastern and Western Vallés, Maresme and Baix Llobregat
Commercial Start Up: 2003
Contact Details
Address: Avinguda Torre Mateu, s/n
Polígon Industrial Can
Salvatella,08110 Barberà del Vallès,
Phone Number: +34 93 851 51 58
Fax: +34 93 851 50 56
Website: -


Short Description

With a growing population over 5 million, Barcelona’s Metropolitan Environmental Agency took the initiative to create a long-term sustainable waste management plan. This plan included blueprints for two facilities (Ecopark and Ecopark 2) with alternatives technologies for waste processing. Barcelona Ecopark began operation in August 2001. During the same year, Ecopark del Besos, SA, a private corportation, won a contract for construction of the Montacada I Reixac Ecopark (Ecopark 2), which process organic waste through the Vlorga anaerobic digestion process.

Ecopark 2 is located in a commercial and industrial zone in Montaca i Reixac, just north of Barcelona. The area where the facility is installed was previously an agriculture area but is at present classified as an “area for public facilities”. It serves all municipalities comprising the metropolitan Area of Barcelona except for the City of Barcelona. Although it is a metropolitan facility, it also serves few municipalities out of the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

This plant started operating in 2003 and has both anaerobic digestion and aerobic composting facilities, installed on the site and processed the Source Separated Organics (SSO) and “all other” fractions as well as green waste from pruning and cleaning of municipal parks and gardens. Anaerobic digestion technology installed is Valorga and the aerobic treatment is tunnel composting. From the opening until 2006 both SSO and “all other” fraction were processed in the AD reactors when problems occurred in the reactors treating “all other” fraction. During Soutine service of the reactor damage on the inner separation wall were discovered. Since then only the SSO fraction is processed in the anaerobic digestion reactors and the “all other” fraction is processed only in the aerobic composting. Total installed capacity on this plant is 240,000 tpa of organic waste. Out of this amount 120,000 tpa is the capacity in the anaerobic digestion reactors.

The total cost of Ecopark 2 is $ 76.6 million; $52 million (67%) are from loans (EU Cohesion fund) to the private corporation that operates the facility, and $ 24.6 million (33%) are from the local and federal government.

In addition, the year 2010 a packaging line added in the same plant. This new line has a processing capacity of 27,500 tons. Therefore, the total treated waste in the Ecopark 2 is 267,500 tonnes of waste per year.

The treatment of both fractions starts with the mechanical pretreatment for recovering of the recyclables followed by anaerobic digestion and aerobic composting of the SSO and only aerobic composting of the “all other” fraction. The green waste is mixed with the digested material from the anaerobic digestion prior to its introduction to the aerobic composting tunnels.

The MBT facility has two distinct lines; one line for the organics and another line for the rest MSW.

The line of the organics includes:

  • Organic fraction of MSW: organic waste separately collected in municipal containers only for organics
  • Organic waste from markets and other major organic waste producers.
  • Pruning: plant remains from municipal parks and gardens.

The line of the rest waste includes:

  • Fraction of municipal waste

Packaging line process:

  • Light packaging: packaging and packaging waste from separately collected (recycling programs)

About 45% of the incoming solid waste is not processed at the facility and is sent to a landfill. 5% of inputs are recovered through the plant’s pre-processing and recycled. The remaining input is biogasified in the digesters. MSW is pro-processed to remove all recyclable materials before the organic residual is processed.

The Valorga digesters are cylindrical chambers, approximately 54 feet in diameter and 75 feet high. There are three digesters in Ecopark 2. The digesters fed once a day and the process takes a few hours. The retention time is 30 days.

The facility produces 12.6 million cubic meters of biogas annually and 38,000 tons of compost.

Furthermore, recyclable materials such as metals, plastics and cartons are reclaimed.

The biogas obtained is used to generate electricity which sells 100 % to a grid but bys 59% of that to support the facility’s operations. The treatment of organic matter at Ecopark 2 is environmentally progressive because it is able to capture and use the biogas produced, which constitutes a cleaner fuel source represents low emissions of greenhouse gases.

Part of the produced compost is packed and used to restore degraded landscapes such as quarries. The produced compost that can be used as fertilizer in organic farming and gardening.

In addition, the Ecopark 2 has two processes controlling the environmental impact, including water treatment and purification of gases.

The following table presents the technological characteristics of Ecopark 2.


Key Facts

Treatment Capacity: 267,500 tpa
Input Material: SSO 240,000 tpa
Pruning (of municipal parks & gardens)
“all other” fraction (organic origin)
Packaging waste 27,500 tpa
Output Products: Compost 38,000 tpa
Byproducts 23,000 tpa
Biogas 12.6 million m3 pa
Electricity 22,000 MWh pa
Recyclables n/a
Residues n/a


Extra Information


[1] In 2004 dollars