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, Finland, Ireland 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.
On the 13th of May WoW! presented during the conference: Art of the possible - resource recovery from wastewater and bioresources. Jappe de Best from Avans University of Applied Sciences (NL) and Zuzana Dedova from University of Luxemburg were having a presentation about new value chains for carbon-based raw materials from wastewater. Read More
The partners within the WOW! team excecuted a market potential study. The objective is to identify viable value chains for 5 carbon based products (CBE) from sewage water: PHA-bioplastic, biodiesel, bio-oil, biochar, and acetic acid. In Figure 1-1 a simplified scheme of the recovery of the 5 CBEs is shown. The full report is finished and can be downloaded! Read More
Partners within the WOW! team wrote a report that describes critical success factors for the recovery of raw materials from sewage and bringing these resources to the market based on lessons learned in EU subsidy projects. Why have some recovery techniques been successfully implemented while others are still in the pilot phase or did not succeed? Information was gathered via literature, an online questionnaire and interviews. Read More
At the beginning of 2021, the first pyrolysis plant in the Netherlands will be opened in Ede, which orders usable raw materials from sewage water. Namely the cellulose pilot of the WOW! project. In the installation that Pulsed Heat has built together with Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe and Cirtec, the cellulose in sewage water is upgraded to oil, acid fraction, gas and coal. Pulsed Heat is responsible for upgrading the residual flows, they are happy to tell you more about their role in the WOW! project. Read More
The decision support tool (DST) developed as part of the Interreg WOW! project by Avans Hogeschool (NL) has been tested by Severn Trent Water (UK). This tool has been designed to provide water industry employees with an easy to use screening tool to assess the viability of carbon-based material recovery options (PHA, lipids and cellulose) at sewage treatment plants. The first testing period got us some nice results! Read More
On the 6th of November Coos Wessels from CirTec, partner in the WOW! project, presented the WOW! project to the North Sea Commission (NSC). The NSC is one of the six geographical commissions of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and a cooperation platform for regions around the North Sea. Their mission is to strengthen partnerships between regional authorities which face the challenges and opportunities presented by the North Sea. In line with the NSC work on protection of the sea from marine litter and harmful substances, the Annual Business Meeting on 6 November 2020 adopted a resolution on circular economy and the reuse of resources from sewage. Read More
In the upcoming month, the lipid-team from the WOW! project will launch the pilot installation at the wastewater treatment plant in Audun-le-Tiche (France). Carefully determined key parameters in the lab-scale experiment will now be tested on site. Read More
Sewage contains about 25-30% of the particulate fraction in the form of cellulose fibers. The source of these fibers is mainly toilet paper due to its increased consumption. Utilizing these valuable materials could reduce the use of natural resources and subsequent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and hence, realizing a circular economy. In the WOW project, a techno-economic assessment of the use of these cellulose fibers for bio-based products is performed at a pilot scale. Read More
Sewage water and sludge are raw materials for the production of PHA: biodegradable biopolymers made by bacteria. These polyhydroxyalkanoates can offer an interesting alternative to fossil plastics. The number of research projects in this field is therefore increasing. Reason for the Biobased Economy Lecturers Platform to organize the webinar "Recent results in PHA development" at the end of November. Read More