Sewage is potentially an important source of biomass and other resources, such as ammonium and phosphate. However, until now, resource recovery from sewage has been very limited. A major problem is that traditional Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) are designed to destroy and remove organic and other components from wastewater, not to recover them. This leads to high costs, due mainly to the consumption of energy (e.g. aeration necessary for the biological degradation) and to the use of chemicals (e.g. for phosphate removal). Furthermore, the environmental footprint of traditional STPs is considerable due to this energy and chemical consumption, but also due to greenhous gas emissions (biological degradation of organic material leads to emissions of CO2, N2O and methane) and to the production of sludge containing micro-pollutants. Various efforts are being made to reduce the environmental footprint of STPs and to remove pollutants contained in sewage. However, these efforts are often only translated into add-on-technologies to existing STPs.
The LIFE WATER FACTORY project intends to establish a paradigm change in sewage management and to demonstrate a sustainable and circular sewage treatment model, by building and implementing an innovative full-scale demonstration plant, the LIFE WATER FACTORY., Only physical processes will be implemented in this demonstration plant, whereas traditional STPs rely on biological processes in which organic and other compounds are destroyed and cannot therefore be recovered.
Specifically, the project aims to: 1. Develop the full potential of sewage as a resource of high-quality water, which will be used in ecological and recreation areas, in industry and for horticulture purposes, and as a source of valuable raw materials (cellulose, ammonium, phosphate, organic biomass, sand); 2. Create, valorise and improve the value chains for the recovered raw materials. For resources with existing value chains (cellulose, sand), the quality of the produced materials will be validated. For the other resources (ammonium, phosphate, organic biomass), the project intends to validate whether they are fit for purpose and can be valorised; and 3. Function as a stepping stone for replication by ensuring active dissemination and carrying out four replication studies.
The LIFE WATER FACTORY project will contribute to the Water Framework Directive, the Urban Waste Water Directive and to the Circular Economy Action Plan. Due to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it also contributes to climate mitigation policy.
Expected results: 1. Recovery of 98% of the water treated and re-use in:
2. Annual recovery of:
2. Annual recovery of: