KWR recently received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 programme for the research project AquaSPICE to support the European Union in building a water-smart economy and society. KWR will be working closely 28 project partners (research institutes, universities, industries and SMEs) in enhancing circular water use in the European Process Industries.

For the vast majority of industries, water is used during some stages of the production process. It is estimated that 20% of all fresh water consumption globally is used by industry and this share is increased to 50% in industrialised countries. The industrial sector is also a major water polluter, as only up to 60% of industrial wastewater receives treatment before being disposed of into the environment. Eco-efficient and sustainable industrial water management is a priority within the integrated water resources management strategy of the Global Water Partnership network and is regarded as one of the most important focus areas for environmental protection in many EU countries. Innovation in water treatment can bring closed loops to almost 100% for important industrial water users and enable new multi-billion-euro markets in saved or recovered and reused resources.

AquaSPICE aims to advance the sustainability of process industries through digital and circular water use innovations. It will foster awareness in resource efficiency and will deliver compact solutions for industrial applications. AquaSPICE follows a systemic approach in water management where optimal efficiency can be achieved through an adaptation of appropriate technologies and practices at different levels, from a single industrial process (unit operation), to an entire factory, to other collaborating industries (industrial symbiosis) or other sectors (e.g. domestic and/or agriculture). AquaSPICE enables and facilitates the immediate uptake, replication and up-scaling of innovations, by providing comprehensive strategic, business and organisational plans that offer a range of well-defined and pre-packaged solutions, suitable for various cases with quite different characteristics.

Towards an Integrated and Digital European Process Industry

AquaSPICE develops, integrates, demonstrates and offers innovation that transverses three pillars.

AquaSPICE vision, strategy and offerings

(i)    PROCESS INNOVATION: A comprehensive set of advanced technologies and practices, combining energy and substances recovery are installed, operated and assessed within AquaSPICE’s case studies, leading to novel solutions for water saving, treatment and recycling. These are diligently selected through background review and case specific needs to bring tangible improvements per case study, while ensuring transferability to many relevant settings in European industries.

(ii)  CIRCULAR INNOVATION: Closed-loops including water re-use options at different levels (in-process, in-factory, water industrial symbiosis, cross-sectorial) are established, considering also different water sources. These demonstration schemes are designed, monitored and evaluated using systemic methodologies and tools, based on holistic modelling concepts, like dynamic Life Cycle and Life-Cycle-Cost Assessment.

(iii) DIGITAL INNOVATION: The novel concept of a water-specific Cyber-Physical-System (WaterCPS) synthesises digital twins of industrial and value chain entities to provide advanced water-saving awareness and optimised water efficiency at different industrial levels. Based on analytics-AI-learning methodologies, WaterCPS brings in cognitive-manufacturing methods and tools for dynamic process adaptation after root cause analysis for detecting non-optimal water use, in order to continuously minimise fresh water consumption and emissions. Underlying WaterCPS, a real-time monitoring and distributed data management system connects the physical and digital worlds through smart sensor networks, IIoT and cloud/edge technologies.

AquaSPICE’s innovations emanate from the requirements of 5 Case Studies, involving 7 industrial actors (Dow, BASF, Water-Link, Solvay, ARETUSA, Agricola and TUPRAS) in 5 EU countries (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Romania) and 1 associated country (Turkey).

Project objectives

AquaSPICE aims at realising circular water use in the European Process Industries, fostering awareness in resource-efficiency and delivering compact solutions for industrial applications. That challenging aim requires:

(i)       multiple state-of-the-art water treatment and re-use technologies,

(ii)     diverse closer-loop practices regarding water, energy and substances,

(iii)    a cyber-physical-system controller in the form of a system for real-time monitoring, assessment and optimisation of water (re-)use at different interconnected levels and

(iv)   an effective methodological, regulatory and business framework.

AquaSPICE does not only address these challenges but also demonstrates the effectiveness, supported by the various European process industries providing evidence on the achievement of the aforementioned objectives.

Key Result Areas

The overall goal of AquaSPICE is the development and validation of water efficiency management and optimisation methodologies, technologies and tools that will carry process industries forward to a near-zero water footprint target with minimum freshwater consumption and water-borne emissions. The key results areas are:

  1. Deliver a methodological and technical water efficiency enhancement applications framework for the process industry.
  2. Deliver methodologies and tools as-a-service to support the assessment and optimal application of novel or already established best practices for water recovery and re-use.
  3. Deliver methodologies and tools as-a-service to support the application of advanced industrial water technologies enabling industrial water recovery/treatment.
  4. Deliver a monitoring platform, ensuring the continuous and uninterrupted acquisition of reliable, cyber-secure and homogenised dynamic data that will enable the continuously and comprehensive knowledge of water-related processes, flows and events.
  5. Deliver a virtualisation (digital twin) of water use-recovery-reuse processes and their relations to the production system, its value chain(s) and external connections, taking advantage of AI techniques to achieve process-aware cognition.
  6. Deliver an intelligent water- and situation-aware water cyber-physical system.
  7. Organise and facilitate the uptake, replication and upscaling of the technological solutions developed by AquaSPICE.

5 case studies are carried out involving 7 industrial parties (Dow, BASF, Water-Link, Solvay, ARETUSA, Agricola and TUPRAS) in 5 EU countries (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Romania) and 1 associated country (Turkey) are involved.

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