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.
Sewage and industrial wastewater often contain many valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. However, this potential is currently not or hardly used, resulting in loss of valuable materials. The INTERREG NWE project WOW! looks into the possibilities to create sustainable value chains from sewage water using these valuable substances. One of the value chains under investigation is the production of PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates), a fully biodegradable bioplastic. Read More
The WOW! project has an Advisory Board with senior representatives from governments and businesses who advise on policies around resource recovery from waste water. Because of COVID-19, the June meeting was a well-attend digital get-together. The National policy action plans were the one of the main calendar items. Read More
Avans and Wetsus have signed an agreement to cooperate in their activities on production of bioplastic from wastewater. In the Wetsus bioplastics from water research theme, fundamental research is performed in collaboration with Delft University of Technology on the production of PHA bioplastic from waste water. This research serves as a basis for the intended further upscaling of this technology by five Dutch water authorities, STOWA, HVC and Paques. Avans also performs research on the production and extraction of PHA bioplastic in the framework of the Interreg North-West Europe project WOW! and their Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy (CoE BBE). The agreement now makes it possible to share information and resources and in this way expand the knowledge for this promising development. Read More
The WOW! team finished the State of Art report on legislation in Europe and the partner countries of the Interreg NW Europe project: Germany, UK, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and The Netherlands. The objective of this report was to describe the main juridical and policy context for bringing raw materials from wastewater to the market, including national differences. Read More
Researchers from Avans University of Applied Siences: Michiel Michels, Guilherme de Souza Reis, Gabriela Fajardo, Ischa Lamot and Jappe de Best recently worked on an article about PHA from sewage water. This within the framework of the Interreg Nort-West Europe project WOW !. The article "Optimization of green extraction and purification of PHA produced by mixed microbial cultures from sludge" has been published in the journal "Water" . Read More
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
The PHA-pilot construction is successfully finished on the Campus of the TU Kaiserslautern (TUK). It is now transported to the sewage treatment plant (STP) Buchenhofen in Wuppertal, where Wupperverband and TUK finished the connections to the STP. Read More
The Brazilian chemical engineering students, Caio and Larissa, are now interns at the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy for the WOW! project. Their research aims to optimize the production of biodegradable plastic (PHA) from secondary sludge. Caio en Larissa will continue the research of former Brazilian interns Tielly en Thalles. Read More
The objective of work package 1 in the WOW! project is to identify viable value chains for 5 carbon based products from sewage: PHA-bioplastic, biodiesel, bio-oil, biochar, and acetic acid. This State of the Art Report is a result of the work package that focusses on the market potential of carbon based elements (CBEs) from sewage. Read More
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