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 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 decision-making 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:


Publication date
28 December 2021

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 basic aspects of a sewage treatment plant. Aspects such as the capacity, the presence of primary treatment and the amount of wastewater originating from households. After completion, this is followed by an overall overview of the results, and the results per recovery technology. The results indicate which technology for the recovery of carbon-based materials is promising for a specific sewage treatment plant.
For each of the recovery technologies you can check which parameters meet the necessary criteria to make this technology feasible and which not. The tool also gives information about the (other) processes in a sewage treatment plant that can be affected by the application of one of the recovery technologies, as well as the technical, ecological, economic and social aspects of each technology.

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,
Check now whether your sewage treatment plants are promising for carbon recovery!


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