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


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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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

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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

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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! session at Aquarama Trade Fair 2021

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On the 30th of September the Aquarama Trade Fair took place. WOW! organised a session about biobased products from sewage. We explained more about how we work together with business partners to extract valuable raw materials from sewage. For this we use several innovative approaches and techniques to create bio-char, bio-oil, bioplastics, biodiesel and more. We would like to share the presentations with you. Read More

Large-scale production of bioplastics from residual flows one step closer

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Towards a sustainable production of bioplastics from residual flows, PHA2USE and the Interreg NWE project WoW! recently took another important step. In the first extraction campaign on a pilot scale, we succeeded in producing more than 18 kg of PHBV from sewage sludge. The produced PHBV, a fully biodegradable bioplastic, is now being tested by companies on various commercial applications. Read More

WOW! maximizes impact with Interreg NWE capitalisation call

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WOW!’s application for the Interreg North-West Europe call for capitalisation has been approved! The WOW! project is running now for 3 years. The challenge WOW! addresses is to create a transition in the urban water cycle. From a linear approach which ends up as sewage, up to a circular approach in which raw materials from sewage are recycled for biobased products. With the capitalisation call WOW! gets the opportunity to develop more various tools and activities to maximise the impact of project results, which is good news for the circular economy. Read More

National policy action plans

Posted on

Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. WOW! has shown that recovery of raw materials from sewage is technically possible and that there is a potential market opportunity for these raw materials. However, to date this potential has hardly been exploited to its full potential in Europe resulting in loss of valuable materials, CO2-emmissions and less efficient use of natural resources. Read More

EU Green Week - WOW! events

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WOW! organized several online events during the EU Green Week 2021. We are pleased to see that there is lots of interest for the recovery of valuable materials from sewage. We hope you got inspired by our webinars. Did you miss one of the events? You can watch the webinars on youtube or/and download the presentations. 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 

WOW! Capitalization 

Video Cellulose/PHA/Lipids pilot

General WOW! video

PHA pilot

Cellulose pilot

Lipids pilot

WOW! end results

Eliminate micropollutants with activated carbon at sewage treatment plants (WOW! Capitalization)

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