Resource recovery: focus on the high value products

There are only a few subjects that have two sessions at the IWA World Water Congress here in Brisbane, Resource Recovery being one of them. Both sessions were chaired by Willy Verstraete in his characteristic enthusiastic and powerful way. I was lucky to be one of the presenters in the first session with our research on the concept of power-to-protein, i.e. the production of single cell proteins from resources in the waste water cycle.

After a short introduction of the concept, I presented the results of our desk study on the potential of the concept for the city of Amsterdam. In my presentation I stated that there is a need for new efficient technologies to extract ammonia from the waste water cycle in an efficient way. Wonderful to see that in both sessions interesting alternatives were brought forward! Emma Thompson from the University of Queensland had an interesting presentation about the use of electrodialysis for resource recovery and in the second session her colleague from UQ Stefano Freguia introduced a new method called microbial electro concentration to recover ammonia from urine without power or chemicals.

Most important conclusion of both sessions was that we primarily should focus on the recovery of high value products in particular. This offers the best opportunities to do it in an economic feasible way and it prevents that you have to compete with existing products from the (petro)chemical industry. So I am really confident that we are on the right track with single cell protein.