KWR coordinates the EC funded ULTIMATE project, working closely with 27 project partners (research institutes, utilities and SMEs). ULTIMATE is a project on water smart industrial symbiosis, and demonstrates, at 9 large scale sites across Europe, enabling technologies. It also assesses their environmental and economic performance, and actively engages stakeholders and citizens to stimulate uptake and acceptance of the circular solutions.
Industry water-utility symbiosis for a smarter water society
Industrial Symbiosis is a particular form of Circular Economy applicable to industrial contexts looking at the reuse of wastes between industries as raw materials. Symbiosis promises benefits from lower costs as well as new types of revenues, exploiting ‘waste’ management not only as a legal obligation but as a new business opportunity. The contribution industrial symbiosis can make to making industries future-proof, climate-proof and to safeguarding the environment are widely understood. The transition toward industrial symbiosis, however, is not easy and requires rethinking and redesign of workflows, processes and business models.
KWR coordinates the EC funded ULTIMATE (indUstry water-utiLiTy symbIosis for a sMarter wATEr society), working closely with 27 project partners (research institutes, utilities and SMEs). The consortium builds an evidence-base of industrial symbiosis applications based on real-world, large scale demonstrations. ULTIMATE focusses on a particular type of industrial symbiosis – “Water Smart Industrial Symbiosis” (WSIS) – in which water/wastewater plays a key role as a reusable resource in itself, but also as a carrier for energy and materials to be extracted, treated, stored and reused. Besides the demonstration of advanced technologies, ULTIMATE investigates the socio-economic and business oriented success factors necessary for the successful transition to industrial symbiotic ecosystems.
Water, energy and materials recovery and reuse
ULTIMATE develops and demonstrates systemic inter-linkages at demonstration sites representing four major industrial sectors: agro-food, beverages, heavy chemical/petrochemical and biotech industry. The circular economy transition to be driven by ULTIMATE encompasses a wide range of water-embedded resources:
- (waste)water: reuse at multiple scales, supported by advanced treatment technologies to produce fit-for-purpose water, compact/mobile/scalable systems, and where possible striving for near-Zero Liquid Discharge;
- energy: improved biogas production, water-enabled heat transfer, storage and recovery for allied industries and commercial sectors, combined water-energy management, treatment plants as energy factories,
- materials: nutrient mining and reuse, extraction of value added compounds (e.g. antioxidants, precious metals), manufacturing new products from waste streams, and producing activated carbon from sludge to minimise costs of micro-pollutant removal.
Nine demo cases
At nine large-scale sites across Europe, the ULTIMATE consortium demonstrates innovative circular water, resource and energy solutions. It emphasises demonstration of technical feasibility as well as conditions for successful application and upscaling. Cross-fertilisation between the demo cases is anticipated by exchange of knowledge, e.g. through a Technology Evidence Base hosted in an online marketplace, organisation of synergy workshops, immersive multi-use and living labs.
The Dutch demo case is the horticulture development area Nieuw Prinsenland, where industrial excess heat reuse, through storage in high-temperature aquifer thermal energy storage systems (ATES), and water and nutrient reuse after pesticide and pathogen removal from wastewater is demonstrated. KWR coordinates these demonstration activities, and cooperates intensively with the local farmers’ Cooperative owned water utility, horticulture, food industry and chemical industry. The activities on this site are a follow up of SUBSOL, in which a full scale aquifer storage and recharge (ASR) system was developed to create temporary storage of treated effluent from the nearby Sugar Factory for the Nieuw Prinsenland horticulture development.
ULTIMATE activities include demonstration of enabling technologies in the case studies across Europe, as well as an assessment of their environmental and economic performance. Active engagement of stakeholders and citizens stimulates uptake and acceptance of the circular solutions promoted and tested in ULTIMATE. KWR is responsible for setting up Communities of Practice to discuss with stakeholders the proposed technologies in the wider social and governance context. All this work is geared towards the development of new circular economy business models and market opportunities. Last but not least, ULTIMATE connects and creates synergies with, and supports learning in, the water and industrial sectors, and supports Europe in developing guidelines and policy on circular economy.
H2020 project and partnerships
ULTIMATE is a 4-year H2020 project under the EU Water in the Context of the Circular Economy programme. The project mobilises a strong partnership of 28 water companies, industry, specialised SMEs, applied research institutes, technology platforms, city and regional authorities, and builds on an impressive portfolio of past research and innovation projects, leveraging multiple European and global networks thus guaranteeing real impact. Several Watershare partners participate in ULTIMATE. KWR is the project coordinator.