Wageningen research on reuse of wastewater awarded six million euros

Published on
March 10, 2021

Wageningen researcher Huub Rijnaarts’ AquaConnect programme is to receive 4 million euros from the NWO Perspective programme and 2 million euros from companies and societal organisations. AquaConnect focuses on reusing wastewater and brackish water to build up a supply of water for use during periods of drought in the Netherlands. The NWO Perspective programme funds six overarching consortia for a total of 22 million euros.

These consortia were selected because they are researching technological innovations with economic potential during the coming years. In addition to the 22 million euros in government funding, the 138 businesses and societal organisations will contribute 10 million euros in private funds.


Increasingly, the Netherlands faces a shortage of freshwater due to severe drought. The broadly based AquaConnect-consortium offers a solution: The researchers aim to deploy novel water purification technologies to reuse wastewater and brackish groundwater. The technology is supported by a system that determines the required water quality for each purpose. This method may then be used by the government in its policymaking. Moreover, the researchers are working on advanced computer models to link water supply and demand through so-called smart water grids that include subterranean water.  For four regions, the programme will demonstrate how they may become self-reliant for freshwater. These regions will serve as an example for the rest of the world. A large number of other parties (see window) join Wageningen University & Research in the consortium.


The Perspective programme challenges scientists to develop novel research routes with economic and social impact in collaboration with businesses and civic organisations. This Dutch Research Council (acronym NWO) programme is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. The Perspective programme strives to contribute to creating economic opportunities within the key technologies and social themes of the mission-driven innovation policy.

From CO2 reduction to organs on a chip

The six granted programmes focus on a new generation of broadband connections, extracting useful products from industrial waste streams, lighter materials for CO2 reduction in transportation, producing parts of human organs on a chip, drought-proof freshwater supplies, and a smarter electricity grid fort he energy transition. The funding will keep the researchers afloat for six years.

The composition of the consortia is typical of Perspective. All actors that are required in reaching practically applicable solutions are included. The programme focusing on smart future electricity grids, for example, includes not only technology companies and technical services but also the three largest network businesses in the Netherlands. The researchers in the programme striving to solve the scarcity of freshwater collaborate with engineering offices and water suppliers and water boards, municipalities, and provinces.

Overview of parties involved

These parties are included in the consortium: Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions-AMS, Brabant Water, Deltares, Dow Benelux, Dunea, Evides, Municipality of Amsterdam, Municipality of  Terneuzen, GlastuinbouwNL, Port of Rotterdam, HZ University of Applied Sciences, ICT Netherlands B.V., KnowH2O, KWR Water, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Netherlands Water Partnership-NWP, North Sea Port, Nijhuis Industrial Technologies, NXFiltration, Oasen, Province of Noord-Brabant, Province of Zeeland, Province of Zuid-Holland, Royal Haskoning DHV, Shell, Stibbe, STOWA, Swinkels, Technical University Delft, Techniscal University Eindhoven, Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam, Twente University, Vitens, Vrije Universiteit, Wageningen Environmental Research, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Wageningen University & Research, Water Alliance, Aa en Maas Water Board, Hoogheemraadschap Holland Noorderkwartier Water Board, Rijn & IJssel Water Board, Scheldestromen Water Board, Vallei & Veluwe Water Board, Vechtstromen Water Board, Witteveen&Bos.