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.
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
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
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
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
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
Industrially today, biodiesel is produced by processing of vegetable oil or animal fat which have several drawbacks, essentially high cost, serious emission and combustion characteristics, and alarming concern related to “food vs. fuel” competition. Read More
Five years ago Severn Trent set out its vision and commitment to changing the way they deliver sewage services – to make the most of resources which are becoming scarcer over time - and providing more innovative services for customers in urban catchments. In delivering those ambitions, Severn Trent will deliver energy neutral processing, recover the resources found in sewage and create products and materials for use in other sectors. Read More
During the first WOW! PHA meeting the plans for the build of the PHA pilot were presented by TU Kaiserslautern. Avans shared the first extraction results and compared two PHA accumulation experiments, and what this could implicate for the PHA pilot. Read More
The Wupperverband is building a pilot plant for the recovery of plastics at the Buchenhofen wastewater treatment plant. Inka Hobus (WiW mbH), Catrin Bornemann (Wupperverband) and Thomas Uhrig (University of Kaiserslautern) present the project in this video. Read More