New Energy and REsources from Urban Sanitation
Priority AxisResource Efficient Economy
Lead partnerVITO NV
Project budget7 007 864 €
ERDF amount3 394 737 €
The NEREUS project will tackle the common 2SEAS area challenges by boosting further the development of green economy and transforming wastewater into a valuable source of water, resources (eg cellulose, nutrients), and energy that could be reused.
More specifically, due to climate change, water scarcity is increasingly problematic resulting in a growing need to reuse wastewater. Finite nutrients such as phosphorus are crucial for agriculture and currently not recovered from wastewater. As a result, these resources cannot be reused in a meaningful manner (e.g. as fertilizer). Wastewater also contains energy / heat that could be used as a sustainable source of energy in order to reduce CO2 emissions. Although there is a growing conviction that future arrangements for the treatment of wastewater should be based on the principles of a circular economy, and although the technology is available, decision makers are still hesitant to make use of them due to the lack of practical evidence.
The overall objective of the NEREUS project is to increase the reuse of resources, water and energy from wastewater by boosting the adoption of technologies that recover resources, water and energy from wastewater in urban areas. A demonstration framework and an institutional framework will be developed to increase the adoption and acceptance of resource recovering technologies. The major change the project will make is to show and to convince cities, regions, waterboards and citizens the benefit of implementing resource recovering solutions to reuse wastewater. The urban context shows residents directly what these technologies can do. This can accelerate the adoption of these resource recovering techniques and can contribute to a 'circular economy'.
- 1 joint feasibility study (based on pilot specific/local feasibility studies) providing detailed and site specific information with respect to the installation of resource recovering technologies
- 9 decentralized wastewater plants to recover energy, resources (f.i nutrients) , and water in 5 different locations.
- 3 test/monitoring reports (resources, water, energy) to measure and optimise the performance of the installed resource recovering technologies
- A strategy to provide decision makers involved in the selection process of WWT information about opportunities to implement resource recovering technology
- A decision support tool (DST) providing policy recommendations and specific information on suitable technologies
- A strategy to create acceptance of the community.
Cross border approach
- Need for demonstration sites
Because decision makers are hesitant to invest in resource recovering technologies for the treatment of wastewater in all four MS, the number of demonstration sites is limited. In this project, five demonstration sites from all over the 2 Seas region become connected.
- Sharing expertise
To benefit from the expertise present in the four Member States (MS) in this project, the knowledge partners will together contribute to the optimization and monitoring of all five demonstration sites in all MS. Also Staff exchange between UK and NL knowledge partners is envisioned.
- Cross border community building on implementation
As a result of the cross-border demonstrations, a cross-border community of decision makers will be created. Compared to academic community on sanitation, local stakeholders that implement new wastewater technology are currently less involved in international networks to share experiences.
Despite unusual working conditions for most of 2020, the NEREUS partners kept up their efforts for the demo cases. Now, all demo cases are operational. Certainly DuCoop has made a huge progress. In May 2020, the residents of the apartments on the New Docks site (Ghent) moved into their new homes. Right after, the greywater treatment plant by NEREUS partner DuCoop became fully operational, purifying greywater from the apartments (wastewater from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines…). A few months later the heat pump was commissioned and the temperature of the treated effluent (20-30°C) was found to be well-suited to be recovered by the heat pump. In October, water utility company Farys started the piloting tests to reuse the treated water as process water by next-door soap factory Christeyns. So far tests have been promising and operations continue into the 1st quarter of 2021.
The New Docks demo also received international recognition in the past year: DuCoop reeled in 3 awards. Not in the least the Belgian prize in the Energy Globe Awards, the most renowned environmental prize worldwide. They also won the silver award in the category 'Business Process Award' in The European Business Awards for the Environment, for combining innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance. These medals are also awarded on a Belgian level (Belgian Business Awards for the Environment), where DuCoop was also honoured with the 2nd prize.
In recent months, Dutch partner Evides Industriewater made promising progress in exploring how the resource nitrogen can be extracted from wastewater. One of the tests examines adding a specific type of algae, since they feed on nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and produce the valuable blue pigment phycocyanine. As small-scale tests have provided sufficient insights, the algae cultivation has recently been upscaled to a photobioreactor (20 l) to optimise treatment conditions.
Towards the end of 2020, NEREUS knowledge partners HZ University and University of Portsmouth published a research article in the Journal of Environmental Management about the technical, environmental, economic and social key performance indicators (KPI’s) that can be used to quantify the benefits and the risks of resource recovery. Title: Mathematically formulated key performance indicators for design and evaluation of treatment trains for resource recovery from urban wastewater.