WOW! (Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Waste water)

Valuable materials from sewage

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, Ireland, Finland 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 are 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 onsewage.
  • Build and run three WOW! pilots to optimize and implement innovative recovery and upcycling techniques.
  • Research opportunities for realizing a centralized PHA production facility that is fed by different small and medium STP’s.
  • Research the possibilities of PHA production from residual streams from food processing industries.
  • Research different techniques for activating biochar into activated carbon for elimination of micropollutants at small and medium STP’s.
  • Create bioproducts made out of sewage, such as bioplastics, biofuel and bio-char.
  • Carry out Technical Economic assessments on the biobased products.
  • Create national policy action plans and an EU policy roadmap.

During this project, Trinity College Dublin will focus on evaluating the life cycle impacts and circular performance of resource recovery for each bio-product in the wastewater.

Period: March 2018 – December 2023.

Project budget: 7,6 million whereof 4,6 million received from Interreg North-West Europe.
Partners: This project is supported by the Interreg North-West Europe program. The partners in this project:

  • Water authority Vallei en Veluwe
  • Wupperverbandsgesellschaftfür integrale Wasserwirtschaft
  • TechnischeUniversität Kaiserlautern
  • Universitédu Luxembourg
  • Natureplast
  • Avans University of Applied Sciences
  • REMONDIS Aqua Industrie
  • VITO
  • Pulsed Heat
  • CirTec
  • Severn Trent Water
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • LAB University of Applied Sciences

For more information please check the Interreg North-West Europe website for more on our WOW! project.

Trinity Research Team

Asst Prof John Gallagher & Prof. Laurence Gill