IMDEA Water, a research institute focused on water management issues (with the legal status of a foundation), is directed towards optimizing public and private decision-making processes, emphasizing on the connection between water, public services, the economy, and institutions.
The institute is gathering knowledge from experimental, legal, and social sciences as well as engineering with the aim of generating relationship and interactions between different research units and topics in order to approach the 21st Century Water Management. The scientific programme of the Institute is based on the development of strategic lines for the integrated water management: management of sustainable bodies of water, quality pollution, water treatment and reuse and economic and institutional analysis. The institute is equipped with high-level up-to-date specialized infrastructures (water, soils, geomatic, biology, membranes and small pilot plants, and water and energy laboratories) for conducting the research activities. The Bioe Group (Bioe) was founded with the purpose of developing novel applications related to microbial electrochemical technologies, a field which explodes the ability of some bacteria for transferring or accepting electrons from conductive materials. Bioe is currently one of the largest worldwide groups in the field with 20 pre- and postdoctoral researchers, and it participated in several national and international project related to urban wastewater treatment using nature-based solutions. Among the recognitions and awards obtained can be mentioned First Prize for Science Dissemination (University of Alcalá, 2015), Best European Project XI madri+d Awards (H2020 iMETLAND, 2016); Global Innovation Award (H2020 iMETland, 2020) Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, United Arab Emirates; Top 3 EU Biotech (iMETland, 2020); First Prize of the Campus of International Excellence Intelligent Energy (2016). ISMET Innovation Award 2021 for the development of the METland® technology for wastewater treatment. On top of that, since 2012 Bioe has been coordinating the edition of the ISMET news, the newsletter from the International Society for Microbial Electrochemistry and Technologies (ISMET). Bioe is also active part of the European division of ISMET, as they have organised the 2nd European Meeting (EU-ISMET) 2014. More information about his activities can be found at




Bioe research group from IMDEA Water Institute will design and implement low-cost microbial electrochemical sensors at ESAMUR facilities (Demo Case #3: urban wastewater treatment plant. WP5: Validation and demonstration activities). These biosensors include data transmission via 4G and custom Apps for smartphones and tablets. These innovative sensors will allow us to analyse directly and immediately the organic matter content in the influent of the wastewater plant, avoiding complex laboratory assays and expensive reagents. The biosensors provide an electric signal that could be directly correlated to microbial activity linked to biodegradability of the organic matter in the wastewater. Then, the electric signal could be easily integrated in the operation management system of the wastewater treatment plant, allowing to know in advance the energy demand of aeration for the biological process (secondary treatment, the main and most energy intensive process of current wastewater treatment plants). By doing this, the energy demand profile of the plant could be determined in different time frames (dairy and weekly), providing flexibility during operation, and increasing the efficiency and sustainability of the facilities (optimization). Additionally, IMDEA will support ESAMUR (DC#3) at lab scale studies (co-digestion) in order to optimize the biogas production via co-digestion of sludge and available substrates together (i.e., wastes from local industries near DC#3, from agriculture wastes to food industries rejected products). In this sense, the main objective is to maximise the biogas production in the plant for self-consumption (high internal demand periods) or sell energy surplus to nearby consumers (i.e., other energy intensive industries or households). Finally, IMDEA collaborates on Open Science activities at WP6 in order to analyse local dimension of each site (social and economic), plan citizen engagement and develop citizen science actions in order to maximize impact of the project outcomes.

Team involved

Abraham Esteve-Núñez

Professor / Group Leader-Principal Investigator

He has participated and coordinated 30 national and European projects, including iMETland (awarded by Madri+d), ELECTRA (EU-China Flagship) and ATTRACT, all from the Horizon2020 programme. In 2021 he was honoured by the International Society for Microbial Electrochemistry and Technology (ISMET) with the Innovation Award for the development of the METland® technology.

Belén Barroeta

Ms / Science Communicator

In 2009, she joined Bioe as a science communicator and research support. She has been part of national and European projects and D&C activities. She led a project to initiate students into electromicrobiology, granted first prize for scientific dissemination. Since 2013, coordinator of the ISMET newsletter. Secretary of the BD of Association of Biotechnology Communicators-AcB

Juan Manuel Ortiz

Dr. /Senior Researcher /Project Manager

In 2015, he joined the IMDEA Water Institute, focusing his research on the development of microbial electrochemical processes for the treatment of urban and industrial wastewater, and sustainable desalination systems. He has participated in 11 national and 4 European projects, including BacWire (FP7) and MIDES (Horizon 2020).

Antonio Berná Galiana

Dr. / Senior researcher / Technical Contribution

The study of bacteria/electrode interaction triggered his interest in electromicrobiology to develop biosensors. He has taken part in more than 20 national and European projects. He joined IMDEA Water in 2015. He has authored 5 patents and is cofounder of Nanoelectra, a technological based company.

María Isabel López

Dr. / Laboratory Doctor Technician

PhD in Analytical Chemistry in 2013 with a thesis focused on metal speciation in biological samples and nanoparticles studies using chromatographic techniques coupled to inductively plasma mass spectrometry (LC-ICP-MS) and nanoparticles characterization (AF4-ICP-MS). Postdoctoral researcher at Department of Material in Imperial College University in London (2013-2014). She joined IMDEA Water as laboratory staff in 2014.

Daniela Torruella Salas

Ms / Team member / Predoc researcher

Since 2019 she has been working at the Bioe group, where she has specialized in microbial electrochemical technologies. Her scientific career is summarized with the study of conductive bed bioreactors, microbial electrochemical sensors for the quality of wastewater and groundwater, and 3D-printing of anaerobic bacteria in hydrogels.