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, 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.

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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
Trinity College Dublin Laurence Gill Ireland
LAB University of Applied Sciences Ossi Marikka


EU Green Week - Lipids from wastewater for biodiesel production

, Online

Lipids in influent wastewater are usually defined as a problem, causing operational issues for Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) operator. The pilot plant in Audun-le-Tiche – operated within the WOW!-project by University of Luxembourg in cooperation with SIVOM de l`Alzette and REMONDIS Aqua - is focusing on the targeted recovery of lipids present in sewage water, which can be further refined to biodiesel.
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EU Green Week - Creating bio oil and bio char from sewage

, Online

The Influent of an STP consist of more that 60% of toilet paper (cellulose). By drying, pelletizing and pyrolysis we convert this into valuable products: bio-oil, acids, syngas and biochar. The biochar can be turned into activated carbon which will be used in the STP to remove pharmaceuticals. During this webinar we tell you all about the process and results of our cellulose pilot in Ede (Netherlands). We also give you an online tour at the cellulose pilot.
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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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Activated carbon pilot update

Posted on

The WoW! project has also shown that biochar from cellulose has a huge application potential at STPs. In the WOW! capitalisation initiative, biochar (produced from cellulose) will be activated into activated carbon for elimination of micropollutants at small and medium STP’s. The activated carbon will be used in constructed wetlands as an additional step after the conventional treatment. We give you an update about the latest developments. Read More

PHA-pilot update

Posted on

The main focus of the pilot experiments is on the observation of how changing substrate compositions affect the overall process of PHA-production. The screening results showed promising results for PHA production using sewage from the brewery, which was used as the first substrate over a time period of 2 months, before a residual stream of a fruit juice factory was used for PHA production. Read More

Circular Principles Enhancing the Potential Value of Bioplastics

Posted on

Embracing the circular economy requires organisations to rethink how we value the finite resources available to society. Producing biobased products from wastewater may currently be a relatively new area of research, and finding ways to make them commercially competitive, is the current challenge being addressed as part of the WOW! Capitalisation project. Evaluating the circular value of PHA recovery from wastewater is an ongoing task, led by Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with Avans University of Applies Sciences and Wupperverbandsgesellschaft für integrale Wasserwirtschaft mbH, with a regional focus as PHA production requires scale to quantify bioplastic’s circular credentials. Read More

We made Impact with Wastewater

Posted on

On the 22nd of March, which was also world water day, the WOW! conference Making Impact with Wastewater took place. And yes, we made impact with wastewater! With +/- 50 participants in Tilburg, The Netherlands, and +/- 100 online we discussed the future of valuable materials from sewage. All of the project results were presented, the end products were showed at the market place and various statements were discussed during the panel discussions. We are very proud of the results reached in the WOW! project and we hope to have inspired you to continue further research on this topics. Read More

Techno-Economic Assessment of Producing Bioplastics from Sewage

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Municipal sewage water contains considerable amounts of organic carbon which can be useful carbon-based materials like cellulose or lipids or converted into fatty acids. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are produced in special processes, but neither sewage nor sewage sludge contains this substance in larger amounts without enrichment. Utilizing these valuable materials could reduce the use of natural resources and subsequent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and hence, realize a circular economy. In the WOW project, a techno-economic assessment on the PHA production plant from primary sludge as feedstock was performed which shows that a positive business case is possible. Read More

Techno-Economic Assessment of producing biodiesel from sewage

Posted on

Wastewater contains a lot of valuable materials such as fat, oil, and grease (FOG) that can be further processed to produce useful fuels such as biodiesel. Utilizing these valuable materials could reduce the use of natural resources and subsequent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and hence, realize a circular economy. In the WOW project, a techno-economic assessment on biodiesel production from sewage sludge as substrate was performed which shows that a positive business case is possible. Read More

Tool launched for circular use of sewage

Posted on

Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. Think of fully biodegradable bioplastics, biochar or biodiesel. But where do you start? As part of the Interreg North-West Europe WOW! project, Avans University of Applied Sciences has developed a tool that answers the question: which valuable substances can I recover at my sewage treatment plants? The tool is designed to provide employees in the water sector with a simple tool in the decision-making process towards a more biobased and circular approach. Read More

Vacancy: Postdoctoral researcher

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The successful postdoctoral candidate will have shared research and project management responsibilities to support research and teaching activities relating to climate action and the circular economy. The candidate will support a leading European project (WOW!) that is advancing new circular economy opportunities by producing biobased products from wastewater, and provide teaching and management support to launch a progressive postgraduate programme in engineering for climate action to upskilling the workforce to address the climate and biodiversity challenge. Read More

WOW! - results of the project 

PHA - Cellulose - Lipids Pilots 


Technical reports: 

Market potential biobased products 

Techno-economic assesment


Technical reports:

Desicion Support Tool

Critical succes factors for valorisation routes 

National policy action plans





United Kingdom: 

EU policy roadmap 

Video Cellulose/PHA/Lipids pilot

General WOW! video

PHA pilot

Cellulose pilot

Lipids pilot

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