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Research and development platform on treatment wetlands for wastewater and sludge – REFLET

Contact : Pascal Molle – Research Director -pascal.molle(at) REVERSAAL Research Unit


■REFLET research and development platform, located in Lyon (France), offers engineering consulting firms, constructors, and water authorities specific tools for developing and validating wetland systems for the treatment of wastewater, sludge and stormwater.

■Operated by a specialized research team, this platform allows to carry out original and innovative research where detailed understanding of pollutant removal processes is a key objective. This is accomplished by using experimental facilities at different scales (laboratories, pilots, semi-industrial prototype, or real size).


The platform, located at different geographical sites of the Lyon metropolitan area, proposes different scales of studies:

■Physical and hydrodynamic characterization of porous media (photo 1)

■Solid respirometry bench for measuring biological kinetics (photo 2)

■4 Laboratory columns (0.1 m²) for the detailed study of pollutant removal mechanisms under controlled conditions (Feyssine experimental Hall)(photo 3)

■4 pilots of 2 m² for the study of pollutant removal processes in real conditions (Feyssine experimental Hall) (photo 4)

■9 semi-industrial outdoor pilots (20 m²) for studying systems in real conditions (Craponne)(Photo 5)

The RESERVAAL research unit has a experience in online monitoring of chemical parameters (COD, TSS, NH4, NO3, oxygen, redox potential, etc.) as well as physical parameters (flow rate, water content, capillary pressure, etc.) on full-scale treatment wetlands.


The metrology developed has taken three innovative directions:

1.       The ability to record continuous measurements (specific ion probes, in-situ spectrophotometry, flow recorders, …),

2.       The introduction of sensors inside porous media (redox potential, water content, oxygen concentration, etc.),

3.       Targeted measures for specific processes.


The platform relies on the LAMA laboratory for the analysis of classical physicochemical parameters, and the EMA laboratory for microbial community measurements (PCR-DGGE, PCR-RISA, qPCR).


The work carried out on the REFLET platform allows:

  • to study treatment wetland systems to develop, validate and optimize design and operation,
  • the use of mechanistic models (hydrus / CW2D, BIO PORE, COMSOL) or the development of specific design or operation support models,
  • the storage of performance data from different treatment plants on INRAE’s ” plant defi ” database