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.
The last 2 years, the WOW! project focused on the recovery of two biobased products from sewage and industrial residual streams: PHA, a biodegradable plastic, and activated carbon from pyrolysis of cellulose. This morning is all about sharing our latest results with you, but we will also look forward. How can we create more impact on this topic? Read More
In the Interreg North-West Europe WOW! project we have shown that the recovery of carbon based elements from sewage results in valuable products like PHA bioplastic. What if we could also use industrial streams for producing PHA? Imagine how much conventional plastics we could replace with this. Sounds like good news! In part two of WOW! we have tested residual streams from different food processing industries on lab scale and pilot scale. After extraction, the PHA is ready for the 3D printing. The question still is if the material is suitable for printing? And something else, how circular is the PHA processing? During this webinar we will tell you all about this and our results. Please join us! Read More
Biobased products from sewage... we have proven it is possible! Over the last 4 years the Interreg North-West Europe project team WOW! has started a transition where we re-use raw materials in sewage. We are happy to invite you to our hybrid conference on the 22nd of March in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Read More
Have you always wondered what biobased products can be made out of sewage? Your senses will be stimulated at our presentation during the Aquarama trade fair on the 30th of September in Leuven. Read More
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. Read More
A pilot plant for Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) bioplastics production is operated at the STP Wuppertal-Buchenhofen. The organic carbon from primary sludge is converted within a two-step biological process to PHA which can be used for further bioplastics production. Read More
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. Read More
Sewage and other wastewater streams contain valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for bio-based products. However, in Europe this potential is hardly exploited yet, which results in loss of valuable materials. At the same time the re-use of sewage water could lead to reduction of CO2-emmissions and reduction of the use of fossil fuels. Read More
One of the main issues in the current situation is the multi interpretation of EU legislation which unfortunately results in different national end-of-waste regulations. To really accelerate a zero pollution Europe, policy harmonisation between European Member States is crucial. Read More
With cellulose sievings, we can already make biochar, acetic acid and bio-oil. Now, we took a next step and activated the biochar into activated carbon for elimination of micropollutants at small and medium sewage treatment plants.
This material then can be used in constructed wetlands as an additional step after the conventional treatment. This application opens possibilities for new markets. WOW! wrote a whitepaper about this subject. Read More
Did you ever think that a solution to our plastic problem could come from wastewater? That's exactly what's happening with the Interreg North-West Europe project WOW! In wastewater, there are often sugars, fatty acids, and starch that can be converted into PHA bioplastic by bacteria. WOW! has already demonstrated the possibility of producing PHA based on sewage. This time, the focus was on residual streams from food processing industries. Read More
On Friday September 8, 2023, the WOW! Closing Event Part 2 took place. The event, conducted both online and live at Trinity College Dublin, brought together experts, innovators, and enthusiasts to celebrate the results achieved in turning wastewater into valuable products. Read More
Yesterday the 6th of June the webinar about PHA took place. In the Interreg North-West Europe WOW! project we have shown that the recovery of carbon based elements from sewage results in valuable products like PHA bioplastic. What if we could also use industrial streams for producing PHA? Imagine how much conventional plastics we could replace with this. Sounds like good news! In part two of WOW! we have tested residual streams from different food processing industries on lab scale and pilot scale. After extraction, the PHA is ready for the 3D printing. The question still is if the material is suitable for printing? And something else, how circular is the PHA processing? During the EU Green Week 2023 we organised a webinar which was all about our results. Read More
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
Volatile fatty acids (VFAs) are organic compounds that are produced during the anaerobic digestion of organic matter, such as waste and wastewater. These VFAs can be used as a substrate for the production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), which are renewable and biodegradable polymers that play a key role in replacing conventional fossil-based plastics. Read More
Within the framework of WOW! Project, the market potential and technical feasibility for production of bioplastic (PHA) from sewage with primary sludge as feedstock has been proved. However, an estimate of economic viability has shown that this requires a waste water treatment plant (WWTP) capacity of approximately 2 million people equivalent (PE). Read More
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
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
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