Rethinking water circularity in the process industry

One year reflection of the AquaSPICE project

Either we rethink how we use water, or we threaten its availability. History has shown an intertwined link between economic development and water resources development. Being one of the significant economic pillars, the process industry consumes water throughout its value chain. As a result, the quantity and quality of industrial water and wastewater generated in every step of the production process vary across a large spectrum and must be managed in a smart, eco-efficient and sustainable manner, bringing close loops to industrial water users and beyond. This is where the project AquaSPICE steps in.

Ambitions of KWR in the project

The domain of efficient water management in the process industry is extensive. This project’s overall goal is to develop and validate water efficiency management,  optimisation methodologies, technologies, and tools to advance the process industry towards a near-zero water footprint target. While it seems to be a straightforward concept, it is often hindered by various barriers and uncertainty from the perspective of the triple bottom line.

In that regard, KWR is developing a holistic framework that puts weight on integrating and demonstrating innovative solutions that traverse three pillars – process, circular and digital. This framework formulates together the technological advances and best practices in diverse fields, including scientific background (such as water recovery, water treatment, IIoT sensor networks, virtualisation & digital twinning, big data analytics, encryption and cyber-security), along with institutional/regulatory, industrial and commercial backgrounds to fully capitalise on their synergies.

Closing the water loops, a step at a time

Equipped with the appropriate process and digital technologies, the enormous potential embedded in industrial wastewater can be explored. Within the project, KWR is also working hand in hand with a large Romania-based food company, Agricola (case study), to explore and realise their first-ever step towards a water-efficient company through sustainable water use and reuse.

The upcoming key milestone for KWR within the project will be pivotal in this case study, which includes the detailed design, deployment and operation of a pilot plant treatment scheme integrated with smart digital solutions to improve the water efficiency at the case study location by transforming their industrial wastewater into valuable resources and explore the synergies of water treatment processes and reuse practices. A successful demonstration of such practices will encourage the local stakeholders to rethink and redesign the traditional take-make-dispose mindset and realise the value of the circular approach in the production process.

Enhance water circularity by investigating the potential of establishing closed-loops across different scales

Enhance water circularity by investigating the potential of establishing closed loops across different scales

Championing diversity in implementing circular water solutions

Water-efficient technologies for 6 European industrial case studies of different sizes, establishments, and sectors are being explored within the project. Implementing water circularity in these various case studies can be a positive portfolio to demonstrate how relevant sustainable water management is to all producers, regardless of motivation, geography, size, sector or end-users. Not only this is a learning opportunity, but these actions can also be a way of gaining new perspectives on possible directions and approaches to fostering a more sustainable collaboration towards a water-efficient process industry.

Some highlights achieved in Year One:

  • Case study workshops to define the scope, goals and the specific treatment objectives of the six pilot plants within AquaSPICE.
  • External Advisory Board was established to provide advice to the project team.
  • AquaSPICE project outreach – Booth at the Water Innovation Europe 2021, fostering collaborations towards a water-smart process industry
  • Conference 2021- presented on intelligent and circular water management approaches at Agricola slaughterhouse- building solid partnerships among regional stakeholders
The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. : 958396

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. : 958396