WOW! maximizes impact with Interreg NWE capitalisation call

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.

The capitalisation initiative focusses on two of the products that are recovered from sewage in the WOW! project: PHA, a biodegradable plastic, and activated carbon which is one of the products of pyrolysis of cellulose. In September this initiative starts as a specific new work package of the WOW! project, which will run until the end of 2023. Besides some of the current WOW! partners we also welcome two new partners: Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)  and, LAB University of Applied Sciences (Finland). Also five new associated partners are joining the capitalisation work package: van der Kroon food products (the Netherlands), Looop (the Netherlands), Scottish Water (UK), Wupperverband (Germany), and Entsorgungsverband Saar (Germany).


With regard to PHA, the capitalisation initiative will first look at the possibilities to realize a centralized PHA production facility that is fed by different medium and small sewage treatment plants (STP’s). This will open new possibilities for PHA production in rural North-West Europe regions that mainly have small to medium sized WWTP’s. Secondly, WOW! will research the possibilities of PHA production from  residual streams from food processing industries. This can produce higher quality PHA, opening new markets opportunities. After testing residual streams from different food processing industries on lab scale, two promising residual streams will be tested in the existing PHA pilot. The application of the produced PHA will be tested in 3D printing. Additionally, a circularity measurement and an assessment of PHA recovery and reuse from sewage will be performed

Activated Carbon

The WoW! project has also shown that biochar from cellulose has a huge application potential at STPs. In this 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. This application at small and medium STP’s opens possibilities for new markets for activated carbon and application in new rural regions. First, different techniques for activation of biochar are tested, characterized and compared with conventional products. The most promising product will be used and reviewed in a pilot-scale on a real STP. Additionally,  a circularity measurement and product value assessment (technical, economic, environmental) is performed.

Laura van Opstal, project leader of the WOW! – capitalisation work package: “WOW! has proven that recovery of products from sewage is possible and has a promising future. With this extra work package we can focus on further valorisation of PHA and activated carbon which is great.”

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