Waterrotonde Eerbeek

A pilot project has been organised with a circular water management system at the Industriewater Eerbeek (IWE) site. Existing plants treat process water from paper and cardboard mills and recover residual products for use in agriculture. The water is then used as the basis for the Waterrotonde Eerbeek pilot project, in which the water is processed in different ways to recover circular residual flows, after which the treated water is returned to the paper and cardboard mills. With support from the Gelderland provincial authority, several parties are working together on the project. KWR was responsible for several aspects, including the measurement of micropollutants and membrane integrity, brine management and the re-use of WWTP effluent as a possible way to compensate for water losses in the water roundabout.

In the Netherlands, high temperatures and dry periods in summer are increasingly normal. The paper and cardboard industry is a major consumer of groundwater. However, in combination with dry periods, this has a significant impact on the local Natura 2000 locality in Eerbeek. Industriewater Eerbeek (IWE) has been treating the wastewater from three paper mills since the 1960s. IWE set up a pilot project in collaboration with a number of partners, including KWR, to study an alternative to groundwater extraction and recover residual flows. That resulted in the Eerbeek waterrotonde project.

Maximising water recycling

With the launch of the pilot plant, Industriewater Eerbeek and its partners Nijhuis Saur Industries, NX Filtration, Pure Water Group, REDstack and KWR have committed themselves to maximising water recycling. The aim of the Water Roundabout is to prevent the annual extraction of 3.6 million cubic metres of groundwater, which is equivalent to the drinking water consumption of about 22,000 households. This initiative should help to conserve water stocks and reduce pressure on water resources. During the project, a picture was established of how the complete closure of the water cycle is possible in combination with the required water quality. There is major potential for the closure of the water cycle and responsible brine management, with opportunities for the valorisation of the clean brine flow by producing chemicals such as acids, alkalis and hypochlorite.

Nanofiltration technology and EDR

Nanofiltration technology was used to remove organic contaminants, colour, turbidity, sulphates and hardness. The filtered water then passed through an activated carbon filter to ensure that the next step, Electrodialysis Reversal (EDR), would deliver optimal performance. EDR uses ‘stacks’ to separate salts from water. The desalinated water is then ready for re-use by the paper and cardboard mills. In the project, KWR provided support for the optimisation of water treatment processes (such as monitoring micropollutants, including PFAS) and brine management (including flocculation/coagulation and alternative brine treatment). The pilot plant was able to produce 10m3/hour of product water.

The aims of the project

The aims of the pilot project were:

  • To demonstrate that the product water meets the quality requirements of the paper and cardboard mills.
  • To produce brine flows to test brine treatment techniques and define the best brine treatment strategy.
  • To generate a set of guiding principles for the design of the “full-scale” water plant on the basis of the lessons learnt.

Hub for water recycling

The project tested a range of innovative water treatment technologies. In the event of a positive follow-up, the construction of the plant itself is likely to begin in 2025. The various paper and cardboard mills will subsequently be connected step by step in order to establish one of the largest hubs for water recycling in the international paper and cardboard industry.

Waterrotonde Eerbeek has the potential to contribute to a sustainable ecosystem and also anticipate possible future regulations regarding discharges into surface water.