ULTIMATE indUstry water-utiLiTy symbIosis for a sMarter wATer society
A consortium of 26 partners, led by WRE member KWR, was recently awarded funding under Horizon 2020 for a project entitled “indUstry water-utiLiTy symbIosis for a sMarter wATer society” (ULTIMATE). The project aims to become a catalyst of a particular type of industrial symbiosis – henceforth termed “Water Smart Industrial Symbiosis” (WSIS) – in which water/wastewater plays a key role both as a reusable resource per se but also as a vector for energy and materials to be extracted, treated, stored and reused within a dynamic socio-economic and business oriented industrial ecosystem. Symbiosis promises benefits from lower costs as well as new types of revenues, exploiting ‘waste’ management not only as a legal obligation but as a new business opportunity. The EU has understood this potential but the transition is not easy and requires rethinking and redesign of workflows, processes and business models to create effective, efficient and profitable symbiotic models within industrial sectors and between industry and water service providers.
ULTIMATE takes the view that what is needed to catalyse WSIS is an evidence-based approach anchored on real-world, demonstrations at significant scales of advanced technologies to reuse wastewater as a resource but also to extract and exploit energy and materials contained within industrial wastewater streams. These demonstrations, need to be supplemented by the tools required to optimize and control the relevant processes, assess their costs and benefits, minimize potential risks and help stakeholders to identify, assess and explore alternative water-based symbiotic arrangements linked to emergent business opportunities, supported by tailored contracts and investment schemes. Yet this is only half the story: even more important than demonstrating technologies is to nurture and demonstrate the variety of partnerships that emerge around them at the local, regional, sectoral and inter-sectoral level between business (incl. industrial and technological ecosystems), water service providers, regulators and policy makers and to work within those partnerships to co-produce a vision for a more circular, profitable, socially responsible and environmentally friendly industry, with water at its centre, that is shared among European economies and societies.
To this effect, ULTIMATE will develop and demonstrate systemic inter-linkages focusing on four of the most important industrial sectors in Europe: the agro-food processing industry, the beverages industry, the heavy chemical/petrochemical industry and biotech industry. Case studies include sites where high-value resources are recovered from industrial wastewater to be used internally or by neighbouring sectors, as well as sites where resources are recovered from municipal wastewater for use by industry.
The project will commence on the 1st of June 2020 and run for 4 years.
More information on the project can be found at: https://www.kwrwater.nl/projecten/ultimate/