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.

Interested in this project?

Subscribe for the WOW! news update

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



Cooperation Wetsus and Avans

Posted on

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

State of the Art report on legislation

Posted on

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

PHA article published!

Posted on

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

Advisory board meeting

Posted on

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

First event WOW!

Posted on

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

First parameters for lipid accumulation

Posted on

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

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)

Share this

Tweet Share