Water treatment technologies aim at the safe discharge of municipal and industrial wastewaters to surface waters, and to reduce the risks associated with polluted groundwaters.
Upcoming water related challenges are fresh water scarcity, a lack of nutrients (e.g. the phosphorus crisis), climate change, degradation and erosion of soils and the necessity for a more bio-based economy to decerase dependency on fossil feedstocks.
Therefore (polluted) water is increasingly considered as a valuable resource for reusable water, energy, chemicals, nutrients and complex organic matter. To meet these challenges domestic and industrial water loops will be further closed, become interconnected, and new treatment technologies and concepts (together with the UETM group) need to be developed that combine treatment and recovery of these resources.
Micropollutants and pathogens
In closed water loops health related risks by the accumulation of recalcitrant, toxic organic micropollutants (e.g. pesticides, gas exhausts, medicines, hormones and consumer products) and of pathogens should be avoided.
Groundwater is a valuable fresh water resource and groundwater aquifers are also used for heat/cold storage. These uses are increasingly threatened by micropollutants (industrial and antropogenic origin).
Physical-chemical and biological technologies are studied to remove micropollutants and pathogens from wastewater and groundwater to make water fit for applications as irrigation water, industrial process water and even (secondary) household water.
Organic matter and nutrients
Wastewaters, industrial as well as domestic, are a rich source of organic matter and nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen). These compounds are often lost in contemporary (biological) wastewater treatment.
We apply technologies as anaerobic treatment for energy production, cultivation of algae for recovery of nutrients and CO2 fixation into valuable organics, and upgrading of waste products to counteract soil degradation and erosion
Desalination and sea-mining
Saline water provides an immense source for fresh process water and drinking water. Innovative electrochemical techniques such as capacitative deionisation and combinations of membrane separation and electrochemical technology are studied to reduce costs and energy demand. Similar technologies in the future also may be applied for sea-mining, for example to harvest scarce metals from seawater