WOW! - Biobased products from sewage

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WOW! BIOBASED PRODUCTS FROM SEWAGE FINAL RESULTS MARCH 2022


INTRODUCTION Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used circularly as a raw material for biobased products. However, this potential is currently underused. In the European Interreg project WOW! we wanted to change this by demonstrating that it is technically feasible to extract raw materials from sewage, by showing that there is a market these materials and by addressing legal barriers for the market uptake.

THE POTENTIAL OF RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE We have shown that the recovery of carbon-based elements from sewage results in valuable products such as biodiesel, biochar and PHA. These products can replace items that are currently made from natural resources (i.e. oil, coal). The use of raw materials from sewage therefore contribute to a circular economy in the EU and cost prices proof that extracting them at the right place in the right way is profitable.

EXTRACTING RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE SUCCESSFULLY DONE! Three pilots were preformed at different sewage treatment plants (STP’s): PHA bioplastics pilot at Buchenhofen STP (GER) Cellulose pilot at STP Ede (NL) Lipids pilot at STP Audun le Tiche (Fr) All pilots were successfully implemented.

DECISION SUPPORT FOR OPERATORS AND MARKET ORGANISATIONS To help sewage treatment plant operators with the circular possibilities at their STP we have developed a Decision Support Tool. Market potential studies have been developed to get insight in market requirements for raw materials from sewage and to get insight in cost prices and market prices.

WHAT HOLDS US BACK? Currently the re-use of sewage and sludge arising from wastewater treatment is only very limited and a free option to choose. There are barriers that hold back the transition towards a circular water economy. In “calls for action” on national level we have the proof that EU end of waste frameworks are interpreted differently in the member states, resulting in different national rules. In our European policy roadmap we address the need for a clear EU legal framework to reach policy harmonization and a mind shift towards thinking in values instead of waste.

ENJOY READING! In this digital booklet we have merged all the results of the WOW! project. We created factsheets for each topic with the possibility to click further and read the complete research reports.


INDEX

PHA - CELLULOSE - LIPIDS PILOTS

MARKET POTENTIAL BIOBASED PRODUCTS

TECHNO-ECONOMIC ASSESMENT

DESICION SUPPORT TOOL

CRITICAL SUCCES FACTORS FOR VALORISATION ROUTES

NATIONAL POLICY ACTION PLANS

EU POLICY ROADMAP


PHA - CELLULOSE - LIPIDS PILOTS



PHA PILOT

FROM PRIMARY SEWAGE SLUDGE TO BIOPLASTIC PHA PRODUCTION, EXTRACTION AND PROCESSING BIOPLASTIC (PHA) FROM SEWAGE

Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. One of these options is the production of PHA. For this the primary sludge of a sewage treatment plant is used. PHA is production is a bio-chemical process that consists of four main steps: 1. Acidification of primary sludge to produce a VFA-rich stream. 2. Enrichment and production of a mixed microbial culture (MMC) with a high PHA-storing capacity. 3. PHA accumulation using the MMC produced in the previous step and a feed with easily degradable organics mainly volatile fatty acids (VFAs). 4. Recovery of PHA from the PHA-rich MMC of step 2 by means of solvent extraction. Next the PHA is compounded and processed to an end product such as plant pots or agricultural foil.

WHAT IS PHA? Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are polyesters produced in nature by numerous bacteria. PHA serves as a source of energy and carbon storage for these bacteria. PHA is composed of a combination of different monomers. Since there are more than 150 different monomers there is a wide range of different PHAs with different properties.

PHA PRODUCTION

With the VFA-rich stream from the acidified primary sludge,PHA-contents of about 30 % of cell dry weight were achieved. In single batches even higher PHA contents were achieved. The pilot-scale operation pointed out the weak points of the process and made it possible to develop strategies for up-scaling. An all seasonal PHA production process is technically feasible.

PHA PILOT

Acidification of the primary sludge led to the production of 7 different VFAs with an average VFA-ratio of 45-55% (± 3%, C-molar-basis) during all seasons. The VFA ratio determines the composition and thereby the properties of the PHA that is produced. The observed stable VFA-ratio therefore suggests that primary sludge is a suitable raw material to produce PHA with stable PHA-properties. This was confirmed by an average HB/HV-ratio of all PHA-accumulation batches of 47 – 53% (± 7 %).

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PHA EXTRACTION

The extraction of PHA from the PHA rich bacterial biomass is done by solubilizing the intracellular PHA using a solvent. This is followed by separation of the PHA and the extracted residual biomass and isolation of PHA from the solvent. Avans university of Applied Sciences developed a method for the extraction that uses dimethyl carbonate (DMC) as a solvent. DMC is considered to be a green solvent compared to the often used halogenated solvents such as dichloromethane. The method also allows re-use of DMC after extraction. The extraction with DMC resulted in a PHA film with a purity of around 91%. This is much higher than with chloroform and dichloromethane as solvents and resulted in a much more elastic and less brittle PHA film. The PHA yield of extraction with DMC was a bit lower compared to chloroform and dichloromethane. Together with the project PHA2USE, a pilot scale extraction of around 70 kg PHA rich biomass was performed with a PHA content of around 29%. The recovered PHA was 18 kg indicating that around 81-88% of the total PHA was extracted. The recovered PHA was used for further processing.

PHA PROCESSING

The extracted PHA was characterized by Natureplast and also 3 formulations were developed. Two formulations were developed with the aim to soften a commercial grade of PHBV that is rigid and brittle. The other formulation had the objective to adapt PHA to make it suitable for extrusion processes. The results show that the PHA produced has very interesting properties. It’s a soft PHA that does not exist on the market today. The PHA could be a solution for applications where a soft polymer is needed. Furthermore, it could be use with other more rigid biodegradable polymers (PLA, PHA, etc.) as a softening agent with the advantage of keeping the biodegradability of the material. The PHA was easy to process although further optimization on the parameters is needed. The material has a low MFI which corresponds to an extrusion grade. With some work on the formulation, the PHA could be used on films or in blowing applications.

CONCLUSIONS

WOW! has shown that it is possible to produce PHA from primary sludge on a pilot scale. The PHA that was extracted (together with PHA2USE) has properties that could make it interesting for several applications such as usage as a softening agent for other biodegradable polymers. On the road to fullscale PHA production additional research is needed on the stability of PHA production (quality and quantity), upscaling of the green extraction method with DMC and processing of PHA towards (prototype) products.

MORE INFORMATION

Download the complete report Contact Jappe de Best jh.debest@avans.nl

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CELLULOSE PILOT FROM CELLULOSE (TOILET PAPER) TO ACTIVATED CARBON​ PRODUCTION, EXTRACTION AND PROCESSING CELLULOSE ​

Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. One of the options is the production of activated carbon. For this, the influent sievings (mainly toilet paper) of a sewage treatment plant is used. During the process noty only biochar but also bio-oil and acid are being produced.​ Cellulose from toilet paper can be turned into activated biochar by five consecutive steps:​ • Sieving of raw wastewater to recover toiletpaper.​ • Dewatering of the sieved material.​ • Drying and pelletization ​ • Pyrolization (carbonisation) to biochar, bio-oil and pyroligneous acid. ​ • Activation of the biochar to activated carbon.​ The activated carbon can be used for the removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewater. ​

PRODUCTION PROCESS​

WHAT IS THE ISSUE ON PHARMACEUTICALS?​ We all take a lot of medicines and most end up in the urine and in the sewage. Sewage treatment plants remove some medicines completely like paracetamol, but others are not removed well and end up in the receiving surface waters. In the Netherlands about 160 tons of pharmaceuticals end up in the surface water every year. Pharmaceuticals affect aquatic ecosystems, fish and other aquatic organisms may for instance feminize or become disoriented.​

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Sieving​ Dewatering​ Drying​ Pelletizing​ Drying​ Pyroflash reactor​ Separation in​ Biochar​ Bio-oil​ Pyroligneous acid

CELLULOSE PILOT; RECOVERY OF TOILET PAPER​

Each year, in the Nertherlands more than 150.000 tons​of toilet paper end up in the sewage.​The toilet paper can be filtered easily from the ‘raw’ sewage using​rotating belt fine sieves (filtermesh 350 µ).​ The sievings then are dewatered to approximately 50 % dry solids ​ and then are ready to be processed further to products which can be​ used in the sewage treatment plant itself of by other companies ​ which are capable to valorise this valuable resource

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PYROLIZATION AND ITS PRODUCTS​

The pyrolysis flash reactor generated e ​ nough syngas to operate the ​ installation. However, the temperature ​became too high (up to 800 oC)​ which resulted in a lower yield a ​ nd high ash content of the ​ biochar (considerable loss of organics).​The bio-oil production was ​ relatively high but the product will need f​ urther valuation steps to be able to use it a ​ s an energy source.​ The pyroligneous acid can be used in the STP to enhance biological denitrification and phosphorous removal (as requirements are not high for this purpose). The amounts however are relatively small to the overall loading of the STP.

ACTIVATION AND REMOVAL OF PHARMACEUTICALS​ The biochars were physically activated (with CO2, Air or Steam) or chemically (with H3PO4 or NaOH). Compared to commercially available activated carbons (removal efficiency 93 %; the physically activated chars showed lower removals of 10-26 % probably caused by the high ash content of about 80 %. The chemical activations did not increase the removals compared to the not activated biochar which already had removal efficiency of about 36 %.​ ​ It therefore can be stated that the quality a ​ nd quantity of the activated chars produced​are not sufficient to apply it on full scale. It w ​ ould require the addition of commercial powder ​activated carbon to reach over 80 % removal.

MORE INFORMATION

Download the complete report Contact Jappe de Best jh.debest@avans.nl

CONCLUSIONS​

WOW! has shown that it is possible to recover toilet paper from raw sewage on full scale. The toilet paper cellulose pulp was dewatered, dried and pelletized. In a flash pyrolization reactor this was turned into biochar, bio-oil and pyroligneous acid. However, during pyrolization a (too) large part of the organics were converted into syngas and by products. The biochar when activated also resulted in a loss of organics which resulted in not sufficient pharmaceutical removal efficiencies. Also, the quantity and quality of the bio-oil and acid was less than expected.​ Future research should focus on the production of 1 product i.e. biochar.

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LIPIDS PILOT FROM LIPIDS TO BIODIESEL ​ ..... BIODIESEL FROM SEWAGE

Municipal sewage sludge has an abundant organic content and amount of lipids, that can be converted into biodiesel. Moreover, oleaginous microorganisms (OMO), such as Microthrix parvicella, can be used in a productive way to increase lipids content, as they accumulate lipids in their cells and membranes. These OMO are known for causing serious operational problems (foam and bulking) in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP); however, by applying circular economy (CE), these problems can be converted into a solution (biodiesel production). The biodiesel production is summarized by the following steps: A pilot-plant designed as selector was connected to the inlet WWTP (after the grid chamber), with ideal parameters to offer optimum conditions for M. parvicella growth and lipids accumulation. Afterwards, the activated sludge, enriched with lipids, was sent to specialized companies for the demo-biodiesel production and quality assessment.

WHAT IS BIODIESEL? Biodiesel is a biofuel produced from renewable sources, which can be originated from agricultural crops (first-generation), or from agricultural crops and industrial processes as by-products (second-generation), or from OMO, as a third-generation of biofuels. The product has to meet standard specifications for biodiesel, such as EN 14214 in Europe.

PRODUCTION PROCESS​

LIPIDS ACCUMULATION (PILOT)

The preliminary results of biofuel and biodiesel, obtained through the transesterification of extracted lipids are summarized in the table on the right. • Lipids => the bioreactors content was 56-74% higher than the inflow • Biofuel => the sum of bioreactors content was 5 times higher than the inflow • Biodiesel => the sum of bioreactors content was 9 times higher than the inflow • Biodiesel => the biodiesel production from bio-reactors represented 36% of Biofuel:

R1: lipids accumulation R2: biomass growth

SUB: separation unit- Bottom level SUU: separation unit- Upper level

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Individual FAMEs: Inflow wastewater: mostly C16:0 and C18:0 Bioreactors: fatty acids accumulated in the bioreactors C16:1, C18:1 and C18:2

SLUDGE CONCENTRATION AND DRYING PROCESS

Concentration of the activated sludge: The activated sludge samples from the pilot plant were harvested as a foam fraction and a liquid fraction which were concentrated through direct separation, freezing/thawing/centrifugation as well as vacuum evaporation. Drying of the concentrated activated sludge: Following the concentrating process, the collected concentrated activated sludge was dried through freeze-drying, air drying and combination of these approaches.

LIPIDS EXTRACTION AND TRANSESTERIFICATION INTO BIODIESEL

Lipid extraction: After initial characterization of the dried sludge, the lipid component was extracted via three different approaches. Biodiesel recovery and purification: The reacted extract (namely biofuel), having a total FAMEs content of about 30%, was distilled under vacuum to obtain a first distillate with FAMEs content of 88-92 wt.%. Two purification steps were performed to improve the FAMEs content, including a second distillation under vacuum as well as a dry wash with SiO2 as adsorbent, resulting in a final biodiesel product that complies with EN14214.

CONCLUSIONS​

Lipids accumulation (pilot): The pilot plant parameters provided favorable conditions for M. parvicella growth and lipids accumulation. Therefore, the lipids-pilot demonstrated being a promising technology to accumulate lipids from sewage sludge. Sludge concentration and drying process: The implemented concentrating and drying methods were found to be effective and the composition of the lipids and their overall content in samples dried by different methods remained stable. Lipids extraction and transesterification into Biodiesel: The reactive extraction approach with methanol on a pre-treated sludge using H2SO4 was found to be the most effective extraction path. The extracted fraction could successfully be recovered and purified into a final biodiesel product which meets the standard specifications (EN14214) for biodiesel in Europe.

MORE INFORMATION •

Download the complete reports: 1. Technical report on operation of demo scale selector for lipids 2. Technical report on concentration of the sludge, lipids extraction, recovery and production of demo-biodiesel Contact Fernanda Muniz Sacco fernanda.muniz@uni.lu or Arsou Arimi arsou.arimi@remondis.de

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MARKET POTENTIAL BIOBASED PRODUCTS



PHA BIOPLASTICS MARKET POTENTIAL - PHA BIOPLASTICS FROM SEWAGE

Origin: PHA recovery from primary sludge Customers:

Plastic processors

Application: Packaging material Agriculture and horticulture Fish farming sector Consumer goods Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used circularly as a raw material for biobased products. However, this potential is currently underused. The European Interreg project WOW! wants to change this by extracting cellulose, lipids and fatty acids from sewage and producing bio-char (activated carbon), biofuel, bio-oil, acetic acid and PHA bioplastics. This factsheet summarizes the results of the Market Potential Study of PHA bioplastics. Click here to read the full report. PRODUCTION:

For the production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), primary sludge from sewage treatment plants (STP) is used. PHA is produced in a biological process and afterwards enriched and extracted. Then the PHA is compounded and processed to an end product.

QUALITY REQUIREMENTS:

The quality requirements represent a challenge for PHA derived from sewage. It must be ensured that the batches produced are of uniform quality (homogeneity of chain length / stable composition of monomers) and quantity. But also requirements including suitability for contact with food, how compostable the material is and it’s colour have to be considered.

PRODUCTION QUANTITIES WORLD WIDE 2020: 36,000 t PHA/a with a rising trend.

COLLECTABLE QUANTITY AT STP IN NORTH WEST EUROPE (THEORETICAL): 122,000 t PHA/a. MARKET PRICE FOR CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTS:

MARKET PRODUCTION PRICE FOR PHA FROM SEWAGE:

The WOW-PHA production prize can compete unter optimised conditions with the market prize for conventional PHA

APPLICATION:

First results show that the produced PHA could be used e.g for cosmetic packaging, biodegradable coffee capsules, biodegradable bags for organic wastes, biodegradable flower pots, mulching films, attachments. So the PHA can be used in a wide-range.

DRIVERS:

The main advantage of PHA based products is their ability to rapidly biodegrade in each end-of-life environment, including water. Additional drivers for this market are the European legislation requirements to use more bioplastic.

MORE INFORMATION: Please contact: Inka Hobus hob@wupperverband.de

3.5 – 4.5 €/kg PHA

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ACTIVATED BIOCHAR MARKET POTENTIAL - ACTIVATED BIOCHAR FROM SEWAGE Origin: Cellulose recovered using screening Customers:

Sewage treatment plants, waste incineration plants, swimming pool industry etc.

Application: Adsorption of pharma- ceuticals and chemicals Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used circularly as a raw material for biobased products. However, this potential is currently underused. The European Interreg project WOW! wants to change this by extracting cellulose, lipids and fatty acids from sewage and producing biochar (activated carbon), biofuel, bio-oil, acetic acid and PHA bioplastics. This factsheet summarizes the results of the Market Potential Study of activated biochar. Click here to read the full report. PRODUCTION:

For the production of biochar the screenings from fine sieving of sewage are used. In this first step cellulose is recovered, dewatered and then dried. In a thermal degradation process (pyrolosis) the cellulose is converted into biochar, bio-oil and acetic acid. The biochar is activated to activated carbon.

MARKET PRODUCTION PRICE FOR BIO-OIL FROM SEWAGE:

QUALITY REQUIREMENTS:

APPLICATION:

First results on the elimination performance of activated carbon based on biochar from sieving shows that 65% of the biochar can be activated. The activated biochar has a mineral fraction of 6.9 wt%. The adsorption capacity is lower in comparison to a reference PAC.

PRODUCTION QUANTITIES WORLD WIDE 2014:

1,4 Mio. t activated carbon per year with a rising trend.

COLLECTABLE QUANTITY AT STP IN NORTH WEST EUROPE (THEORETICALLY): 226,000 t activated biochar per year.

MARKET PRICE FOR CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTS: 1.5 – 2 €/kg activated biochar. 4-6 €/kg chemically activated char 1-1.4 €/kg biochar

The biochar production price can compete with the market price for activated biochar under optimised conditions. It must be taken into account that the by-products bio-oil and pyroligneous acid are also sold.

The biochar produced can be used to remove pharmaceuticals at sewage treatment plants instead of activated carbon from fossil sources. The activation process needs to be optimised to achieve higher removal efficiency.

DRIVERS:

The main driver for this market is sustainability. The production of activated carbon in some markets, e.g in emerging markets is not environmentally friendly. A further advantage is the direct use at the sewage treatment plant for removal of organic micropollutants.

MORE INFORMATION: Please contact: Inka Hobus hob@wupperverband.de

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BIO-OIL MARKET POTENTIAL - BIO-OIL FROM SEWAGE Origin: Cellulose recovered using screening Customers: Industry in need for process heat , transport sector Application: Process heat / electricity fuel-blending Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used circularly as a raw material for biobased products. However, this potential is currently underused. The European Interreg project WOW! wants to change this by extracting cellulose, lipids and fatty acids from sewage and producing bio-char (activated carbon), biofuel, bio-oil, acetic acid and PHA bioplastics. This factsheet summarizes the results of the Market Potential Study of bio-oil. Click here to read the full report. PRODUCTION:

MARKET PRICE FOR CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTS:

For the production of bio-oil, cellulose obtained from sewage by screening is used as a feedstock. In the first step cellulose is recovered, dewatered and then dried. In a thermal degradation process (pyrolosis) the cellulose is converted into biochar, bio-oil and acetic acid.

330 – 560 €/t comparable to heavy fuel oil on an energy basis.

MARKET PRODUCTION PRICE FOR BIO-OIL FROM SEWAGE: By-product of biochar production

QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: It must be ensured that the quality of the bio-oil will be within a close range. Solids content in the fuel will add to additional particulate matter. The boiler or furnace used must be able to handle the particulate matter load.

APPLICATION: The lower and higher heating value of the prduced biooil from sewage is in a comparable range to other biooils. The biooil can be used for process heat and fuel blending.

PRODUCTION QUANTITIES EUROPEAN UNION: 194,000,000 tonnes fossil fuel per year for space and process heating.

COLLECTABLE QUANTITY AT STP IN NORTH WEST EUROPE (THEORETICALLY): 640,000 tonnes per year bio-oil.

DRIVERS: The main advantages of bio-oil are sustainability and legal requirements to enhance the renewable energy share in the European Union (RED II).

MORE INFORMATION: Please contact: Inka Hobus hob@wupperverband.de

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ACETIC ACID MARKET POTENTIAL -ACETIC ACID FROM SEWAGE Origin: Cellulose recovered using screening Customers: Sewage treatment plants, agriculture production of CxHy Application: Carbon dosage (STP e.g digester, denitrification) or pesticide (agriculture) Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used circularly as a raw material for biobased products. However, this potential is currently underused. The European Interreg project WOW! wants to change this by extracting cellulose, lipids and fatty acids from sewage and producing bio-char (activated carbon), biofuel, bio-oil, acetic acid and PHA bioplastics. This factsheet summarizes the results of the Market Potential Study of acetic acid. Click here to read the full report. PRODUCTION:

MARKET PRICE FOR CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTS:

For the production of acetic acid, cellulose obtained from sewage by screening is used as a feedstock. In the first step cellulose is recovered, dewatered and dried. In a thermal degradation process (pyrolosis) the cellulose is converted into biochar, bio-oil and acetic acid.

0.5 - 0.8 €/kg acetic acid 0.1 €/kg pyroligneous acid (diluted)

MARKET PRODUCTION PRIZE FOR ACETIC ACID FROM SEWAGE: By-product of biochar production

QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: The quality requirements represent a major challenge for the use of acetic acid derived from sewage. In addition to the organic asset, the aqueous fraction includes phenolic compounds, ester, acetals, ketones, formic acid, and many others. These minor components may be critical for some applications.

PRODUCTION QUANTITIES WORLD WIDE:

APPLICATION: It can be used as carbon dosage on sewage treatment plants to improve the denitrification or biological P-Elimination, but the produced amount is relativly low.

DRIVERS: The main drivers for this market is sustainability and the direct use at the sewage treatment plant.

10 Mio. tonnes acetic acid per year.

MORE INFORMATION: COLLECTABLE QUANTITY AT STP IN NORTH WEST EUROPE (THEORETICALLY): 400,000 tonnes per year

Please contact: Inka Hobus hob@wupperverband.de

of an aqueous fraction containing organic acids (7% solution).

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BIODIESEL MARKET POTENTIAL - BIODIESEL FROM SEWAGE Origin:

Sewage

Customers: Fuel industry Chemical industry Transport companies Application:

Fuel

Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used circularly as a raw material for biobased products. However, this potential is currently underused. The European Interreg project WOW! wants to change this by extracting cellulose, lipids and fatty acids from sewage and producing bio-char (activated carbon), biodiesel, bio-oil, acetic acid and PHA bioplastics. This factsheet summarizes the results of the Market Potential Study of biodiesel. Click here to read the full report. PRODUCTION: For the production of biodiesel, the sewage inflow is used to cultivate Microthrix parvicella that can accumulate significant amounts of lipids from the wastewater. In a next step the lipids are extracted, processed and transformed to biodiesel.

QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: The EU standards for biodiesel have to be fulfilled. There are several parameters that influence the biodiesel production step and its final quality (e.g. composition of fatty acids, content of water). The initial samples which were analyzed through process technologies, similar to conventional available methods for biodiesel production from crops (transesterification), provided promising results for the extraction of lipids from the produced lipid-rich sewage sludge.

GLOBAL BIODIESEL PRODUCTION IN 2019: 42 Mio. tonnes.

COLLECTABLE QUANTITY AT STP IN NORTH WEST EUROPE (THEORETICALLY): : Up to 2 Mio. t/a

(e.g., primary sludge, sludge from oil-water seperator).

MARKET PRICE FOR CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTS: 0.70 – 0.91 €/l biodiesel from agriculture based raw material.

PRODUCTION PRIZE FOR BIODIESEL FROM SEWAGE: 1.59 €/l

APPLICATION: The produced biodiesel from sewage meets the standard specifications (EN14214) for biodiesel in Europe and can thus replace fossil sources in the transport sector.

DRIVERS: The main advantages of biodiesel from sewage is sustainability and legal requirements to enhance the renewable energy share in the European Union (RED II).

MORE INFORMATION: Please contact: Inka Hobus hob@wupperverband.de

biodiesel considering all wastewaster streams

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TECHNO-ECONOMIC ASSESMENT


WHAT IS A TEA?

Techno-economic assessment (TEA) is an integrated evaluation of the technological performance and economic feasibility of a (new) process or value chain with the aim to identify the most important underlying parameters for its economic feasibility. As such a TEA helps decision makers in steering research and developments or investments. For the WOW! project we performed a TEA for cellulose, PHA and lipids from sewage.


TEA BIOCHAR SEWAGE CELLULOSE TO ACTIVATED BIOCHAR WHAT IS A TEA? Techno-economic assessment (TEA) is an integrated evaluation of the technological performance and economic feasibility of a (new) process or value chain with the aim to identify the most important underlying parameters for its economic feasibility. As such a TEA helps decision makers in steering research and developments or investments. For the WOW! project we performed a TEA for cellulose, PHA and lipids from sewage.

PYROLYSIS PLANT

Cellulose fibers are recovered by using special screens, dewatered, dried, and formed into pellets. A fast pyrolysis process transforms the pellets into biochar and volatiles that are separated into bio-oil, acetic acid, and pyrolysis gas. The pyrolysis gas is internally used to provide the heat required for drying the cellulose fibers.

KEY PARAMETERS • • • •

Activation yield OPEX savings Drying heat Plant scale

BIOCHAR ACTIVATION

To expand the number of applications, biochar can be activated using a chemical method.

CONCLUSIONS & FUTURE PERSPECTIVES • • • •

Production cost of chemically activated char was €2317/ton, which is 42% less than the assumed market price. Alternative drying technology such as vacuum evaporator would result in fuel cost savings. The acid fraction and activated char may require further treatment to attain standard quality. TEA shows a positive business case under the assumptions made. Optimizing actual operations will make further improvements.

MORE INFORMATION:

Mohammed Nazeer Khan (VITO) mohammednazeer.khan@vito.be

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TEA BIO OIL SEWAGE CELLULOSE TO BIO-OIL WHAT IS A TEA? Techno-economic assessment (TEA) is an integrated evaluation of the technological performance and economic feasibility of a (new) process or value chain with the aim to identify the most important underlying parameters for its economic feasibility. As such a TEA helps decision makers in steering research and developments or investments. For the WOW! project we performed a TEA for cellulose, PHA and lipids from sewage.

PYROLYSIS PLANT

Cellulose fibers are recovered by using special screens, dewatered, dried, and formed into pellets. A fast pyrolysis process transforms the pellets into biochar and volatiles that are separated into bio-oil, acetic acid, and pyrolysis gas. The pyrolysis gas is internally used to provide the heat required for drying the cellulose fibers.

KEY PARAMETERS • • • • •

OPEX savings Drying heat Plant scale Cellulose concentration

PRODUCTS

Biochar and acetic acid are considered as by-products and no char activation is assumed

PRODUCTION COST

WWTP capacity = 150,000 Population Equivalent Bio-oil capacity = 121 t/y

CONCLUSIONS & FUTURE PERSPECTIVES • • • •

Production cost of chemically activated char was €252/ton, which is 50% less than the assumed market price. Alternative drying technology such as vacuum evaporator would result in fuel cost savings. Bio-oil may require further treatment to attain standard quality. TEA shows a positive business case under the assumptions made. Optimizing actual operations will make further improvements.

MORE INFORMATION:

Mohammed Nazeer Khan (VITO) mohammednazeer.khan@vito.be

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TEA ACETIC ACID SEWAGE CELLULOSE TO ACETIC ACID WHAT IS A TEA? Techno-economic assessment (TEA) is an integrated evaluation of the technological performance and economic feasibility of a (new) process or value chain with the aim to identify the most important underlying parameters for its economic feasibility. As such a TEA helps decision makers in steering research and developments or investments. For the WOW! project we performed a TEA for cellulose, PHA and lipids from sewage.

PYROLYSIS PLANT

Cellulose fibers are recovered by using special screens, dewatered, dried, and formed into pellets. A fast pyrolysis process transforms the pellets into biochar and volatiles that are separated into bio-oil, acetic acid, and pyrolysis gas. The pyrolysis gas is internally used to provide the heat required for drying the cellulose fibers.

KEY PARAMETERS OPEX savings Drying heat Plant scale Cellulose concentration

PRODUCTS

Biochar and bio-oil are considered as by-products. Acetic acid obtained is in aqueous form (~7% conc).

PRODUCTION COST

WWTP capacity = 150,000 Population Equivalent Bio-oil capacity = 146 t/y

CONCLUSIONS & FUTURE PERSPECTIVES • • • • •

Production cost of chemically activated char was - €106/ton, which is 206% less than the assumed market price. Negative cost is due to high revenue obtained by selling the byproducts Alternative drying technology such as vacuum evaporator would result in fuel cost savings. Aqueous acid require further treatment to attain standard quality. TEA shows a positive business case under the assumptions made. Optimizing actual operations will make further improvements.

MORE INFORMATION:

Mohammed Nazeer Khan (VITO) mohammednazeer.khan@vito.be


TEA BIOPLASTIC BIOPLASTICS (PHA) FROM SEWAGE WHAT IS A TEA? Techno-economic assessment (TEA) is an integrated evaluation of the technological performance and economic feasibility of a (new) process or value chain with the aim to identify the most important underlying parameters for its economic feasibility. As such a TEA helps decision makers in steering research and developments or investments. For the WOW! project we performed a TEA for cellulose, PHA and lipids from sewage.

PHA PRODUCTION PLANT

The plant consists of several steps including fermentation, biomass selection/enrichment, PHA accumulation, PHA separation, drying, and PHA extraction. To have an economically feasible PHA production, a decentralized strategy is required where selection and production of PHA-rich biomass are done at several plants and transported to a centralized PHA extraction facility.

KEY PARAMETERS • • • • •

PHA-rich biomass PHA yield CAPEX Plant scale

END PRODUCT

Recovered virgin PHA material is mixed with other raw materials and used in an injection moulding process to produce end products.

PRODUCTION COST

WWTP capacity = 2,168,518 Population Equivalent (from 10 plants) PHA capacity = 5000 t/y

CONCLUSIONS & FUTURE PERSPECTIVES • •

Production cost of PHA (bioplastics) was €3569/ton, which is 11% less than the market price. PHA yield is an intrinsic process parameter that can be increased by manipulating the carbon to nitrogen ratio, using inhibitors and novel fermentation strategies. TEA shows a positive business case under the assumptions made. Optimizing actual operations will make further improvements.

MORE INFORMATION:

Mohammed Nazeer Khan (VITO) mohammednazeer.khan@vito.be

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TEA BIODIESEL BIODIESEL FROM SEWAGE WHAT IS A TEA? Techno-economic assessment (TEA) is an integrated evaluation of the technological performance and economic feasibility of a (new) process or value chain with the aim to identify the most important underlying parameters for its economic feasibility. As such a TEA helps decision makers in steering research and developments or investments. For the WOW! project we performed a TEA for cellulose, PHA and lipids from sewage.

BIODIESEL PRODUCTION PLANT

The biodiesel production plant uses wastewater sludge as substrate. The value chain consists of several steps including wastewater screening to remove large debris, mixing for homogeneity, lipids accumulation and microbial growth, separation by centrifuge, drying by vacuum dryer, lipids extraction in a column, solvent recovery, transesterification, separation by centrifuge, catalyst neutralization, and separation/purification of products by distillation.

KEY PARAMETERS • • • •

Biomass recirculation CAPEX Wastewater inflow Drying energy

PRODUCTION COST

WWTP capacity = 200,000 Population Equivalent (only 12% flow is considered) Biodiesel capacity = 7960 t/y

CONCLUSIONS & FUTURE PERSPECTIVES • •

Production cost of PHA (bioplastics) estimated was €1594/ton, which is 43% more than the market price. Biomass recirculation back to the anoxic tank is the most influential variable. Lowering the recirculation from 90% to about 72% will result in a biodiesel price similar to the market price. An optimum recirculation strategy should be developed without compromising the biomass requirement in the anoxic tank.

MORE INFORMATION:

Mohammed Nazeer Khan (VITO) mohammednazeer.khan@vito.be

www.nweurope.eu/wow


DECISION SUPPORT TOOL


DECISION SUPPORT TOOL IS YOUR STP SUITABLE FOR CIRCULAR USE OF SEWAGE? Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. Think of fully biodegradable bioplastics, biochar or biodiesel. But where do you start? As part of the Interreg North-West Europe WOW! project, Avans University of Applied Sciences has developed a tool that answers the question: which valuable carbon based substances can I recover at my sewage treatment plants? The tool is designed to provide employees in the water sector with a simple tool in the decisionmaking process towards a more biobased and circular approach. The tool has been extensively tested in collaboration with Severn Trent (UK). From now on it is free to use and available via this link. But first:

PHA, LIPIDS AND CELLULOSE

The tool aims to give information about the recovery of five specific carbon-based materials using 3 different recovery technologies. First of all, PHA, a fully biodegradable bioplastic that can be produced from fatty acids by bacteria that are present in sewage. Second, the production of biodiesel from lipids (oils and fats). And finally, the production of bio-oil, bio-char and acetic acid via the pyrolysis of cellulose (toilet paper). The WOW! project has proven it is possible to recover all these materials from sewage. But which technology and which material can be interesting for you?

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The tool works quite simple. On the input tab you enter some aspects of one or multiple sewage treatment plants. Aspects such as the capacity, the presence of primary treatment and the amount of wastewater originating from households. After completion, an overall overview of the results can be found per technology. For each sewage treatment plant it is visible which technology for the recovery of carbon-based materials is promising. Per technology you can see which parameters are sufficient or insufficient with regards to the specified criteria. Furthermore the tool gives information about the influence of the 3 recovery technologies on existing processes at a sewage treatment plant, as well as the technical, ecological, economic and social aspects of each technology. Check now whether your sewage treatment plants are promising for carbon recovery!

Input DST: set of parameters of your sewage treatment plant:

Primary treatment (yes/no) Percentage sewage from households Amount of population equivalents (PE) BOD (mg/L) COD (mg/L) Outcome DST (example): Green: promising for this STP. Orange: at this STP only, probably not feasible. Grey: more detailed information needed. PHA

LIPIDS

CELLULOSE

MORE INFORMATION

Do you want to know more about the article or do you have questions about the tool itself? Then please contact Alexander Compeer, researcher Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy, ae.compeer@avans.nl.

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CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS FOR VALORISATI


ION ROUTES


RESOURCE RECOVERY FROM SEWAGE

CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS FOR VALORISATION ROUTES

Partners within the WOW! team wrote a report that describes critical success factors for the recovery of raw materials from sewage and bringing these resources to the market based on lessons learned in EU subsidy projects. More than 30 EU projects were surveyed and in addition to differences, similarities were also found: both in the barriers and in the critical success factors. Why have some recovery techniques been successfully implemented while others are still in the pilot phase or did not succeed? Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products. Different EU projects such as the Interreg NWE project WOW! – (Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Wastewater) have shown that recovery of raw materials from sewage is technically possible and that there is a potential market opportunity for these raw materials. However, to date this potential has hardly been exploited to its full potential in Europe resulting in loss of valuable materials, CO2-emmissions and less efficient use of natural resources. Based on the information gathered, two important drivers can be distinguished that determine whether resource recovery from sewage becomes a success in the EU:

ACCEPTANCE OF RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE Sewage has always been linked to unhygienic and

pollution. To accept raw materials from sewage, first of all the organizations that are responsible for treating sewage (suppliers) need to realize that sewage is actually a valuable resource and not waste. For the acceptance of products from sewage by the customers (businesses and consumers), it is important that the hygienic and environmental safety can be assured. A promising option to achieve this is the development of a EU-Standard to assess the quality of new products from sewage and the introduction of EU-sustainability certification for all products.

POLICIES RELATED TO USE OF PRODUCTS FROM SEWAGE The current European regulatory framework considers products made from sewage as waste. This means that for the application of these products it is needed to obtain an end-of-waste status. This is not an easy task since the requirements described in article 6 of the European Waste Framework Directive a) have a focus

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This leads to different interpretations of the European Waste Framework Directive between member states and therefore differences in costs, procedures, acceptance and practice of resource recovery around the EU. A solution to overcome this is an update of the existing European regulatory framework on waste and harmonise it with the Circular Economy Package to provide harmonised, clear and transparent guidance on preferred End-of-Life options and to facilitate optimal resource use (including waste). The latter can be stimulated by implementing favourable tax systems or by making a certain percentage of recovery mandatory, similar to what exists for biofuels.

MORE INFORMATION Download the complete report For question please contact: Jappe de Best jh.debest@avans.nl Visit our website: www.nweurope.eu/wow

Looking at the critical success factors for the recovery of raw materials from sewage, it is difficult to distinguish generic success factors. However, as a rule of thumb projects tend to be more successful if there is regular consultation with regional and national authorities and if a project is not afraid to take a next step in (legal) acceptance of a product if not all signs are green yet. The drivers and critical success factors will be elaborated further in the National Policy Action Plans and the European Roadmap which are drafted as part of the WOW! project.

www.nweurope.eu/wow


NATIONAL POLICY ACTION PLANS


ACTION PLAN RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE - LEGISLATION THE NETHERLANDS CIRCULAR

The exploitation of resources from sewage contributes to the national policy “The Netherlands circular in 2020”. The ambition is limited by waste regulation and policies that lag behind and remain based on the linear principle that waste is the end of the chain.

SEWAGE IS VALUABLE

A biocomposite made from recycled toilet paper? Yes you can! Raw materials in sewage can be used for all kinds of applications. A few examples: • Application of phosphate as a fertilizer. • Sewage sludge to produce biogas or as a raw material for the cement industry. • Use of lipids for biodiesel production. • Activated carbon made from screenings for the removal of micro pollutants from sewage. • Making degradable plastics (PHA) from fatty acids. •

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Raw materials from sewage are classified as waste materials. A substance only ceases to be waste if the following conditions from the framework directive (Kra art. 6, update 2018/851/EU) are met: • The material is to be used for specific purposes. • There is a market or demand for the material. • The material meets technical requirements for the specific purposes and meets the existing legislation and standards applicable to products. • The use of the material generally has no overall adverse effects on the environment or human health. The Guideline Waste or Product (Ministry of I&W, July 2018) is the framework for these conditions. Authorities are explicitly asked to follow this Guideline for the sake of the transition to a circular economy.

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TOP 5 PRACTICAL CHALLENGES

One of the main challenges of making valuable products from sewage is uncertainty about the legal implications. 1. Depending on the question, an End of Waste (EoW) file is reviewed nationally (by the Ministry) or regionally (by the “Omgevingsdiensten”). Struvite was reviewed on a national level and Kaumera on a regional level. 2. The Guideline Waste or Product is open to interpretation and that makes the approval of an EoW file dependent on persons and region. In practice, the regional office often consults another authority (RWS, NVWA). 3. There is no set term for the procedure, which makes it impossible for initiators to plan. The review of the struvite file has taken seven years and for Kaumera and cellulose the procedures are ongoing. 4. To prove demand for the material an agreement with a market party has to be signed. Market parties only enter into an agreement if there is certainty that EoW status has been achieved and is available. 5. There is no generic European or Dutch end of waste regulation for resources from sewage. A specific EoW status needs to be requested for each application, each client and each production site. This is expensive, time-consuming and also hinders market uptake (see 4).

MORE INFORMATION

For more information please contact Jappe de Best, Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy/Avans Hogeschool - jh.debest@avans.nl. Or visit the website www.nweurope.eu/wow.

WHICH ACTIONS ARE NEEDED! SHORT TERM (< 1 YEAR) 1. Have a maximum term of 30 days for the assessment of end of waste files 2. Also allow a letter of intent as burden of proof that there is a market or demand 3. Create a clear substantive assessment framework for raw materials from sewage. On the basis of this framework, determine in advance with the competent authority which requirements the EoW file must meet (per case).

MEDIUM TERM (1-3 YEAR) 1. Authorise one nationally operating organisation to assess end of waste files. 2. Expand the options for agreeing to an end of waste status of the same type of raw materials for different locations and different customers. 3. Lobby for free trading of raw materials between countries: an EoW status applies for all EU countries.

www.nweurope.eu/wow


ACTION PLAN RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE - LEGISLATION GERMANY CIRCULAR

Reuse of sewage is an objective in the Municipal Waste Water Directive (Kommunalabwasserrichtlinie). Furthermore the recovery of resources is determined in the “Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz” (German implementation of the European waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EG). One of the main tasks is to generate as little waste as possible and to recycle as much of it as possible.

SEWAGE IS VALUABLE

A biocomposite made from recycled toilet paper? Yes you can! Raw materials in sewage can be used for all kinds of applications. A few examples: • Application of phosphate as a fertilizer. • Sewage sludge to produce biogas or as a raw material for the cement industry. • Use of lipids for biodiesel production. • Activated carbon made from screenings for the removal of micro pollutants from sewage. • Making degradable plastics (PHA) from fatty acids.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Municipalities and water associations treat sewage under public law. There are no clear policies on resource recovery from sewage except for phosphorous. However, secondary material obtained from wastewater might be considered as product. The EOW status is determined by the manufacturer of the raw material according to the 5 criteria in the European waste Framework Directive. The EOW status is not checked by a governmental institution. The manufacturer is responsible for the product. For secondary raw materials from wastewater with a quantity of more than one tonne per year each, the European REACH regulation must always be observed for production and marketing. German municipal sewage treatment plants are almost completely operated under public law. The public operators are exempt from turnover tax and are not allowed to act in the private sector. As a result, they can not merchandise materials and resources recovered from sewage. This needs to be done by a third party such as a 100% public owned daughter company.

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TOP 5 PRACTICAL CHALLENGES

One of the main challenges of making valuable products from sewage is uncertainty about the legal implications. 1. Uncertainties about the legal implications for the recovery of valuable resources from sewage must be eliminated. The status of products from sewage water is unclear: is it considered as a secondary product or a waste. 2. Initiators of resource recovery do not know to which governmental institution their case has to be directed. 3. Besides phosphate recovery, there are no concrete goals on resource recovery from sewage but only ambitions. As a result there is no direct necessity to realise resource recovery in the short term. 4. To prove demand for the material a Memorandum of Understanding with a market party has to be signed. However, these companies only enter into an agreement if there is certainty that the EoW status is achieved and there is a market for the product. 5. There is no generic European or German end of waste regulation for resources from sewage. So far the criteria have been laid down for e.g. iron scrap, glass cullet and copper scrap. A specific EoW status needs to be requested for each application, each client and each production site. This is expensive, time-consuming and also hinders market uptake.

MORE INFORMATION

For more information please contact Jappe de Best, Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy/Avans Hogeschool - jh.debest@avans.nl. Or visit the website www.nweurope.eu/wow.

WHICH ACTIONS ARE NEEDED! SHORT TERM (< 1 YEAR) 1. Make an unambiguous (EU) assessment framework for raw materials from sewage. This position needs to be validated with a case study in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment. 2. One door, one key principle: one governmental institution that handles requests. 3. Development of operator models for recovery of raw material from sewage for public owned companies.

MEDIUM TERM (1-3 YEAR) 1. Formulation of concrete goals on resource recovery from sewage to stimulate resource recovery in the nearer future. 2. Expand the options for agreeing to an end-of-waste status of the same type of raw materials for different locations and different buyers. 3. Lobby for free trading of raw materials between countries: an EoW status applies for all EU countries.

www.nweurope.eu/wow


ACTION PLAN RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE - LEGISLATION FLANDERS CIRCULAR

In the 2050 vision, the Flemish government has laid down how Flanders will realize the transition to a circular economy. This is done under the heading of “Circular Flanders“. Raw materials from sewage water can contribute to the realization of a circular economy. However, this is still not happening enough. This is partly due to market conditions, and waste legislation, which still assumes a linear approach in which residual flows are regarded as waste. What opportunities are there and what needs to be done to capitalize on these opportunities?

SEWAGE IS VALUABLE

A biocomposite made from recycled toilet paper? Yes you can! Raw materials in sewage can be used for all kinds of applications. A few examples: • Application of phosphate as a fertilizer. • Sewage sludge to produce biogas or as a raw material for the cement industry. • Use of lipids for biodiesel production. • Activated carbon made from screenings for the removal of micro pollutants from sewage. • Making degradable plastics (PHA) from fatty acids.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Raw materials from sewage are classified as waste materials. A substance only ceases to be waste if the following conditions from the waste framework directive (WFD art. 6, update 2018/851/EU) are met: • The material is to be used for specific purposes. • There is a market or demand for the material. • The material meets technical requirements for the specific purposes and meets the existing legislation and standards applicable to products. • The use of the material generally has no overall adverse effects on the environment or human health. These conditions have been detailed for Flanders in the materials decree (Dec 2011). Implementation is in the hands of OVAM. Flanders can draw up its own criteria for the use of waste materials in specific applications. This has already happened for a number of applications (including fertilizers and building materials).

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TOP 4 PRACTICAL CHALLENGES

Challenges for making valuable products from sewage water is the Flemish policy and legal framework. 1. The price of raw materials from sewage water is currently even higher than that of conventional comparable raw materials. Current policy is not aimed at realizing preconditions for creating a good market 2. Flanders has a 30 days decision time for an End-of-Waste (EoW) status application. This is very good. However, this applies from the time the application file is complete. 3. In principle, a Flemish EoW declaration is location-bound and only applies to the process described in the application. There is an option for a group end-of-waste declaration, but only if it concerns identical processes and the raw material is used in one specific application. This is often not the case for raw materials from sewage. So separate applications must be submitted. This is time consuming and hinders proper positioning in the market. 4. The Flemish EoW declaration is only valid in Flanders. Not in other EU countries or even in Wallonia (Belgium). This hinders proper positioning of raw materials from sewage on the EU market.

MORE INFORMATION

For more information please contact Jappe de Best, Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy/Avans Hogeschool - jh.debest@avans.nl. Or visit the website www.nweurope.eu/wow.

WHICH ACTIONS ARE NEEDED! SHORT TERM (< 1 YEAR) 1. Implementation of the guidance for the assessment framework for raw materials from sewage. 2. Formulate concrete goals on resource recovery from wastewater to stimulate resource recovery in the short term. 3. Allow Flemish EoW declaration also in Wallonia and vice versa.

MEDIUM TERM (1-3 YEAR) 1. Expand the options for agreeing to an end-of-waste status of the same type of raw materials for different locations and different buyers. 2. Free trading of raw materials within Belgium: an EoW status applies for whole Belgium (and lobby for free trading of raw materials between all EU countries).

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ACTION PLAN RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE - LEGISLATION LUXEMBOURG CIRCULAR

Realisation of a circular economy is a key pillar of the Luxembourg policy. The ambitions of Luxembourg are described in the new Circular Economy Strategy Luxembourg, 2021. These ambitions are: 1. To define a regulatory framework for material recovery from organic waste. 2. To explore incentives and create values for recovered materials from wastewater. 3. To provide information of nutrient flows including sewage sludge.

SEWAGE IS VALUABLE

A biocomposite made from recycled toilet paper? Yes you can! Raw materials in sewage can be used for all kinds of applications. A few examples: • Application of phosphate as a fertilizer. • Sewage sludge to produce biogas or as a raw material for the cement industry. • Use of lipids for biodiesel production. • Activated carbon made from screenings for the removal of micro pollutants from sewage. • Making degradable plastics (PHA) from fatty acids.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Raw materials from sewage are classified as waste materials. A substance only ceases to be waste if the following conditions from the waste framework directive (WFD art. 6, update 2018/851/EU) are met: • The material is to be used for specific purposes. • There is a market or demand for the material. • The material meets technical requirements for the specific purposes and meets the existing legislation and standards applicable to products. • The use of the material generally has no overall adverse effects on the environment or human health. These conditions have been implemented for Luxembourg in the ‘Loi modifiée du 21 mars 2012 relative à la gestion des déchets’ and the ‘Plan national de gestion des déchets et des Ressources’ (PNGDR, 2018)

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TOP 4 PRACTICAL CHALLENGES

Major challenges in making valuable products from sewage water are the Luxembourg policy and legal framework. 1. The ‘Loi modifiée du 21 mars 2012 relative à la gestion des déchets’ is open to interpretation and that makes the approval of an End of Waste (EoW) file dependent on the authority assessing the application. 2. Besides phosphate recovery, there are no concrete goals on resource recovery from waste water , only ambitions. As a result there is no direct urgency to realize resource recovery in the short term. 3. To prove demand for the material a Memorandum of Understanding with a market party has to be signed. Market parties only enter into an agreement if there is certainty that EoW status has been achieved and is available and there is a market to sell the product. 4. There is no generic European or Luxembourg End of Waste regulation for resources from sewage. Currently, a specific EoW status needs to be requested for each application, each client, each production site and each country. This is expensive, time-consuming and also hinders market uptake (see challenge 3).

MORE INFORMATION

For more information please contact Jappe de Best, Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy/Avans Hogeschool - jh.debest@avans.nl. Or visit the website www.nweurope.eu/wow.

WHICH ACTIONS ARE NEEDED! SHORT TERM (< 1 YEAR) 1. Include resources from sewage in the product circularity datasheet Luxembourg (PCDS). 2. Also allow a letter of intent as burden of proof that there is a market or demand

MEDIUM TERM (1-3 YEAR) 1. Make a clear assessment framework for raw materials from sewage that also addresses environmental an human health aspects. 2. Formulate concrete goals on resource recovery from wastewater to stimulate resource recovery in the short term. 3. Expand the options for agreeing to an End of Waste status of the same type of raw materials for different locations and different customers. 4. Lobby for free trading of raw materials between countries: an EoW status applies for all EU countries

www.nweurope.eu/wow


ACTION PLAN RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE - LEGISLATION UNITED KINGDOM CIRCULAR

In December 2018, the UK government published its Resources and Waste Strategy. This outlines its policy direction on minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency, and moving towards a circular economy. In April 2019 the English and Welsh Water Companies, made a Public Interest Commitment that committed the sector to net zero emissions by 2030. Resource recovery from sewage is likely to be a key enabler to deliver this commitment. Better aligned waste policy and regulation, for example relating to ‘End of Waste’ criteria may be required for Water Companies to maximise the opportunity associated with recovery of materials from sewage.

SEWAGE IS VALUABLE

A biocomposite made from recycled toilet paper? Yes you can! Raw materials in sewage can be used for all kinds of applications. A few examples: • Application of phosphate as a fertilizer. • Sewage sludge to produce biogas or as a raw material for the cement industry. • Use of lipids for biodiesel production. • Activated carbon made from screenings for the removal of micro pollutants from sewage. • Making degradable plastics (PHA) from fatty acids.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The UK water and sewerage industry was privatised in 1989 with a regulatory framework to ensure that consumers receive high standards of service at a fair price, and an environmental regulation to ensure the industry complies with national and EU legislation. Following the UK leaving the EU, The Environment Bill will bring environmental protections and recovery into UK law. The Bill includes the establishment of the Office for Environmental Protection to replace the role of the European Commission (EC). Regarding recovery of material from sewage, wastewater is “waste” within the scope of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD). The WFD defines waste as “any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard”. Discarded means “the disposal and recovery or recycling of an object or substance”. An End of Waste (EoW)

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status can be achieved by complying with specific criteria established by the EC or evidencing that requirements to demonstrate EoW have been met.

TOP 4 PRACTICAL CHALLENGES

Challenges for making valuable products from sewage water is the policy and legal framework in the UK. 1. The process to achieve EoW status for a material recovered from sewage is complex and time consuming. Multiple applications may be required for very similar materials, for example different formulations of fertilisers. This could hinder market uptake. 2. There is no generic UK end of waste regulation for resources from sewage (currently, specific EoW criteria only exist for iron, steel, aluminium scrap, glass cullet and copper scrap). 3. Without EoW in place it is difficult to develop a market for a recovered material, and without a market for the recovered material it is difficult to make a business case for investment in technologies/processes to extract the material. 4. There are no directive incentives or concrete goals for resource recovery from sewage and as a result no direct necessity to realise resource recovery in the short term. Carbon targets should help but specific targets/incentives for example on nutrient recovery may stimulate investment.

MORE INFORMATION

For more information please contact Jappe de Best, Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy/Avans Hogeschool - jh.debest@avans.nl. Or visit the website www.nweurope.eu/wow.

WHICH ACTIONS ARE NEEDED! SHORT TERM (< 1 YEAR) 1. Seek to clarify and simplify how to achieve product status for recovered materials from sewage (for example under Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive rather than the WFD). 2. Assess the value (including financial and carbon) of potential products, the cost of recovering them and the technological readiness to recover as a way to prioritise what the industry focusses on. 3. Learn from existing facilities. For example analyse sewage characteristics and current infrastructure data to identify gaps and potential opportunities

MEDIUM TERM (1-3 YEAR) 1. Formulation of national goals/incentives for use of recovered materials to stimulate the market for the use of these materials and a greater uptake of resource recovery processes. 2. Implement a route -map for resource recovery from sewage (RRS) 3. Identify future project(s) to be a RRS demonstrator. 4. Develop a strategy to set a nominal 20 year vision for RRS including a rethinking of the local and regional infrastructure network and influencing the amount of resource recovered.

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EU POLICY ROADMAP


EU POLICY ROADMAP EUROPEAN POLICY ROADMAP Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used circularly as a raw material for biobased products. However, this potential is currently underused. In the European Interreg project WOW! wanted to change this by demonstrating that it is technically feasible to extract raw materials from sewage, by showing that there is a market these materials and by addressing legal barriers for the market uptake. This factsheet summarizes a European roadmap towards the widespread use of the potential that raw materials from sewage offer.

.....

A ROADMAP TOWARDS THE CIRCULAR USE OF RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE

To realize efficient use of resources and accelerate the transition towards a modern and more sustainable Europe, innovations are needed. This requires European clarity of and more uniformity in the legal framework. The WOW! consortium foresees 5 important steps towards this goal:

THE POTENTIAL OF RAW MATERIALS FROM SEWAGE

WOW! has shown that the recovery of carbon-based elements from sewage results in valuable products such as biodiesel, biochar and PHA. These products can replace products that are currently made from natural resources (oil, coal). This contributes to a more circular economy in the EU. Many applications are possible as shown in the table below.

THE EU SET HIGH AMBITIONS TO BECOME CIRCULAR The EU Green Deal, the future climate law and the EU circular action plan all reflect the high ambitions to reduce our amounts of waste and greenhouse gas emissions to a minimum. Article 12.1 of the European waste-water treatment directive UWWTD (91/271/EEC) states that treated wastewater shall be reused whenever appropriate. Disposal routes shall minimize the adverse effects on the environment. This also applies for sludge arising from wastewater treatment according to article 14.1-18.

WHAT HOLDS US BACK?

Currently the re-use of sewage and sludge arising from wastewater treatment is only very limited and a free option to choose for water utilities. There are barriers that hold back the transition towards a circular water economy. In the opinion of the WOW! consortium the main legal barrier is the unclarity and multi-interpretability of the European rules on end of waste. This leads to different national frameworks and sometimes overprotective procedures.

Explanation 1: it is a necessity to combine the current review with making the recovery and reuse of resources from sewage more attractive. 2: Reducing market barriers includes: Free trading of resources and products from sewage with and end-ofwaste status within the EU. A revision of the burden of proof that there is a market or demand for a material. 3. Collection, recycling and use of recovered raw materials from sewage should be considered the standard on no longer a possible free option to choose. 4. Waste valorisation is the key. Change the definition of “waste” in a way that doesn’t automatically imply all materials are classified as waste after being used once. 5. This includes a transparent end-of-waste process with clear (end-ofwaste) status demands and deadlines. > go to Europan Policy Roadmap

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CONTACT

Additional information is available on the WOW! website For specific questions, please contact the WOW! coordinator: Katrien Bijl, Water authority Vallei & Veluwe - KBijl@vallei-veluwe.nl For media inquiries, please contact the WOW! communications officer: Wendy van Rijsbergen: w.vanrijsbergen@avans.nl

IMPRINT

WOW! Interreg NWE Project EU Roadmap – call for action: the potential of resource recovery from sewage. © WOW!, 2022 Re-use is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

PROJECT PARTNERS

WOW! is supported by the Interreg North-West Europe program.

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