WorldWide Drilling Resource

24 SEPTEMBER 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Don’t Let It Go to Waste Adapted from Information by WIDER UPTAKE Despite an increasing focus on recycling, we recycle very little wastewater and the resources it contains. Researchers in five countries are now working to demonstrate circular economic models for how wastewater resources can be utilized in a water-smart society. Their overall goal is wastewater resource utilization to ensure access to clean water, enough food, and good living conditions for all. Barriers to this goal are not mainly technological because several solutions have been developed to recover and utilize wastewater resources. However, regulations and lack of business models are much bigger challenges. Herman Helness, a senior scientist in SINTEF (Selskapet for INdustriell og TEknisk Forskning ved norges tekniske hoegskole - The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology - is coordinating the EU-project WIDER UPTAKE, a collaboration between water utilities and private business in five countries: Norway, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Ghana, and Italy. The demonstration projects currently in progress are: Norway - using phosphorus and sludge from wastewater to produce fertilizers, soil products, and biogas; Netherlands - production of biocom- posites for manufacturing materials with resources recovered from the entire water cycle; Czech Republic - using purified wastewater for urban greening; Ghana - using purified wastewater for irrigation in agriculture and making biochar from sludge to replace wood as a source of energy in industry; Italy - using wastewater for irrigation in agriculture and extracting phosphorus and nitrogen for fertilizers. Norway’s project aims to demonstrate nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, can be put to good use as fertilizers. The water, sewage, and refuse management company IVAR IKS, based in the Norwegian county of Rogaland, is participating in one of the demo projects. In collaboration with a company called Høst verdien i avfall AS , it is recovering phosphorous contained in wastewater slurries to produce fertilizer and soil products, as well as biogas and energy. “In the past, sewage treat- ment focused mainly on removing organic material, and valuable resources were lost during the process,” said Leif Ydstebø, a technical manager responsible for slurries and biogas at IVAR. “We’re now working to recover the nutrients instead of discharging them into the sea,” he added. When sludge is removed from wastewater, it contains both nitrogen and phos- phorous, but not in sufficient quantities to be used as an effective fertilizer. To recy- cle more of the phosphorous, the plan is to recover a substance called struvite, which contains both elements. For the new recycling technology, they will run a variety of laboratory tests to identify the method best suited to the facility. First, they had to overcome a statu- tory regulation governing fertilizer use, which required notifying municipal physicians of the use of sludge-based fertilizers, something that made farmers skeptical of its use. But they were able to receive a dis- pensation from this requirement after prolonged discussions with the authorities. Erik Norgaard, a microbiologist heading research and development work at HØST said, “Organic fertilizers are not what they were some decades ago. The wastewater grid has been renovated. Fewer copper pipes mean less heavy metals in the wastewater and slurries from which we manufacture the fertilizer. Norwegian farmers can now move into organic farming with confidence.” WIDER UPTAKE realizes the barriers for these water-smart solutions are not only technological but also of organizational, regulatory, social, and economic char- acter. But they hope their innovations will provide applied knowledge to develop a road map for widespread implementation of water-smart symbiotic solutions for wastewater reuse and resource recovery. Water treatment plant. Photo courtesy of SINTEF. ENV The Grand Coulee Dam, west of Spokane, Washington, spans nearly a mile across the Columbia River. Its reservoir, Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, stretches 150 miles north, almost to the Canadian border. Subscriber Snapshot