Waste-water purification in New Delhi uses Wageningen technology

October 15, 2019

On 14 October King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima opened a wastewater purification pilot system in New Delhi that included an important contribution by Wageningen. The system is made up of a chain of purification techniques to clean water and make it reusable. It’s an outcome of the Lotus-HR collaboration, which includes Prof. Huub Rijnaarts’ research group, working with Indian partners. Other researchers from Wageningen, including the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), were also part of the Dutch delegation in India.

The extremely polluted Barapullah Drain is one of the largest open sewers in New Delhi. Every day, untreated sewage from three million homes flows into the Yamuna River. A little further along, the river is used for other purposes such as irrigation and industry.

Cooperation combines forces

The Lotus-HR project is being coordinated by the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and financed by NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. Delft is focusing on preliminary treatment of the wastewater through anaerobic digestion (dissolved air flotation technology). Purification techniques developed by Prof. Huub Rijnaarts’ Environmental Technology research group then come into play, including specific purification methods such as the Vital Urban Filter (photo). “WUR’s Environmental Technology group is working on this with doctoral researchers from our Indian partner, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD),” said Prof. Rijnaarts.

Wageningen’s contribution to the Lotus-HR project with the Vital Urban Filter and two PhD candidates from WUR and IITD.
Wageningen’s contribution to the Lotus-HR project with the Vital Urban Filter and two PhD candidates from WUR and IITD.

Other purification methods developed by Wageningen make use of algaes (Marcel Janssen from Bioprocess Engineering, working with Tania Fernandes and Louise Vet from NIOO-KNAW). “After this step in the purification process the water should be clean enough to be used for flower cultivation for local markets, and for irrigation in agriculture,” said Prof. Rijnaarts.


LOTUS-HR, a multidisciplinary collaborative programme, has now started its second phase. Dutch and Indian partners in the programme are developing robust technologies for the local purification of wastewater, as well as the retrieval of resources from that water, which can then also be reused locally. Health issues are explicitly addressed as part of this.

The Dutch delegation included five researchers from Wageningen. One of them was Raoul Bino, director of the Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group, participating in the 25th Technology Summit at the Indian Department of Science and Technology, which on this occasion was organised jointly with the Netherlands. “This is about accelerating our collaboration in the fields of agriculture, water and health. Various new initiatives have been launched to intensify our collaboration,” said Bino.