WOW! - Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Wastewater

Project Summary

Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. However, in North West Europe this potential is hardly exploited yet. This results in loss of valuable materials, increased CO2-emmissions and less use of natural resources. The Interreg North-West Europe project WOW! - Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Waste water (sewage) - aims to make the transition to a more circular approach by matching supply and demand of cellulose, lipids and PHA bioplastics from sewage. The international consortium consists of partners from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Valuable materials from sewage

There are market opportunities for raw materials from sewage, but for this the sewage treatment plants and the industry need alignment. This calls for a transition: sewage treatment plants need to switch from treating sewage to producing valuable materials. On the other hand, market parties need to regard sewage as a valuable source instead of ‘dirty unsafe water’. Last but not least, the policies should better fit this new circular practice. To realize these opportunities the consortium aims to develop value chains for three different raw materials from sewage: cellulose, PHA bioplastics and lipids.

The following activities will be part of the project:

  • Identify high potential value chains for raw materials from sewage.
  • Develop a Decision Support Tool that guides sewage treatment plants in their transition towards a circular approach on sewage.
  • Build and run three WOW! pilots to optimize and implement innovative recovery and upcycling techniques.
  • Create bioproducts made out of sewage, such as bioplastics, biofuel and bio-char.
  • Create national policy action plans and an EU policy roadmap.


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Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Regional Water Authority Vallei en Veluwe 10 Steenbokstraat
7324 AX
Name Contact Name Email Country
Wupperverbandsgesellschaft für integrale Wasserwirtschaft mbH Gerd Kolisch Germany
University of Kaiserslautern Heidrun Steinmetz Germany
University of Luxembourg Joachim Hansen Luxembourg
VLARIO Wendy Francken Belgium
Natureplast Guillaume lebouteiller France
Avans University of Applies Sciences Jappe de Best Netherlands
REMONDIS Aqua Industry Patrick Herr Germany
Flemish Institute for Technological Research Ruben Guisson Belgium
Pulsed Heat BV Rinus van Praag Netherlands
Severn Trent Water Ltd. Paul Knuckle United Kingdom
CirTec B.V. Coos Wessels Netherlands


Business opportunities for raw materials from sewage

, Leuven, Belgium

The Interreg WOW! project is one of the initiators of an EU wide transition in which raw materials from sewage are reused as valuable bio-based products. We will subtract PHA to make bioplastics, extract and multiply lipids to make biofuel and use cellulose to make biochar. Do you want to know more about the technologies? Or do you see possibilities to help us with the business uptake? Please feel welcome to join us this afternoon!
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Advisory board meeting

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On the 15th of November, the Advisory Board meeting for WP3 came together at Avans. The attendees were Coos Wessels (NL, Cirteq and project leader WP3), Katrien Bijl (NL, Water Authority Vallei & Veluwe), Mark Fletcher (UK, Arup), Marjolein Weemaes (BE, Aquafin) and Raymond Erpelding (LUX, Siach). Wendy Francken (BE, Vlario) and Francesco Fatone (IT, Università Politecnica delle Marche) were able to join in via Skype. Read More

First event WOW!

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Sewage consists of many valuable raw materials. But why is only 1% re-used? Katrien Bijl, project leader of the WOW! project kicks off the first WOW! event in Leuven. “In the WOW! project we want to show that it is technically possible to subtract raw materials from sewage in relation to their use as bio-based products for different markets. Creating an European framework for the legal and policy challenges in sewage treatment is also one of our goals”. During the event companies, governments and scientists listened to the inspiring presentations of the project partners which resulted in interesting discussions. Read More

First parameters for lipid accumulation

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With the beginning of this year the lipid-team from the WOW! project started to work on the process enabling the selection of bacteria responsible for lipid accumulation from municipal sewage. The lab-experiments in bioreactors allowed to determine first key parameters (such as wastewater composition and aeration mode) to select corresponding bacteria. Read More

Pilot Cellulose on the way

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Regional water authority Vallei en Veluwe will start this fall with the construction of the housing for the cellulose pilot on their treatment plant in Ede. In this hall, there will be an installation to produce four raw materials from cellulose, extracted from sewage. Read More

First WOW! student exchange

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Bora Çetin is the first student to be exchanged between the WOW! project’s partners. He is an Avans student studying Biology and Biomedical Research with a specialization in Biotechnology now doing his internship at TU Kaiserslautern. During an Avans project, beginning of this school year, he got inspired with the WOW! project and especially with PHA bioplastic. We asked Bora about his experiences. Read More

Brazilian students extract bioplastic from sewage

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Sewage contains all kinds of valuable matter, such as PHA or bioplastic. This is produced by the same bacteria that can degrade it. This makes PHA very suitable to replace the plastic used to package food like salads or smoothies, the kind that currently ends up as residual waste. At the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy, a team of Brazilian students is doing research into PHA in sewage. Read More

Project team visits pilot plant Remondis

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On the 4rd of December the WOW! project team gathered in Germany Lünen at the REMONDIS office. Part of the program was a visit to one of REMONDIS’ pilot plants, the TetraPhos. This process recovers valuable phosphorus from sewage sludge ash in form of phosphoric acid, which is mandatory for big sewage treatment plants in Germany from 2029 on. A good example for recovering valuable products from “waste water” which was an inspiring visit for the team! Read More

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