New European initiative to transform wastewater into a valuable resource

University of Exeter has joined a new pan-European initiative to create new techniques to turn wastewater into a valuable resource.

A team from University of Exeter’s engineering department and business school will work in partnership with researchers from across Europe for the new ULTIMATE (indUstry water-utiLiTy symbIosis for a sMarter wATer society) project, designed to harness the potential of wastewater.

Dr Albert Chen, Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter and part of the research team said: “ULTIMATE will explore opportunities to bridge the gap between technology optimisation and business development that will co-produce shared visions for a more circular, profitable, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly industry, with water at its centre. The outcome will significantly enhance the recovery and use of resources, enabling more sustainable socio-economic development with better strengthened resilience to climate change.

The ULTIMATE consortium

Funded by the European Commission, aims to generate economic value and increase European sustainability by exploiting resources within the water cycle. The consortium promotes recycling in various international industrial sectors, such as agro-food, petrochemical and biotech sector.

Professor Nav Mustafee, Associate Professor of Analytics and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Simulation, Analytics and Modelling (CSAM), said: “Our project will employ hybrid computer modelling and simulation techniques, such as the combined application of System Dynamics with Agent-based and Discrete-event simulation, to model recycling strategies that take into consideration the different systemic inter-linkages existing in water-smart systems.”

As part of this project, University of Exeter will be assembling, developing, and demonstrating a set of transversal tools to support WSIS decision making. The team will identify symbiotic opportunities, improve the design and operation of symbiotic schemes, and study their performance within a dynamic socio-economic and business environment.

Additional schemes within ULTIMATE

The Aretusa Consortium in Italy, which is responsible for treating wastewater from two communities in Tuscany, aims to increase its annual water process capacity from three to four million cubic metres. The Glenmorangie whiskey distillery in Scotland has also joined this new the pilot. The company plans to extract up to 800mg/L ammonia for usage as fertiliser and to recover heat for use in the distillery processes.

“ULTIMATE is a four-year Horizon 2020 project under the EU Water in the Context of the Circular Economy programme. We have mobilised a strong partnership of water utilities, industry, technology providers, business developers and applied research institutes. We aim to create economic and sustainability value by valorising resources from the water cycle,” says senior researcher Gerard van den Berg, coordinator of the ULTIMATE project from KWR Water Research Institute in the Netherlands.

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