REWARD: Reuse of water in the food and bioprocessing industry

Water is not only a resource, it is a life source. We all share the responsibility to ensure a healthy, secure, and sustainable way of applying water now and in the future for our society, the environment, and the economy – our lives depend on it. Unless sustainable water practices are implemented, half of the world’s population will be exposed to water scarcity by 2050. The massive volumes of process water wasted in the food and bioprocessing industries represent an environmental burden that can be turned into a resource.

The hypothesis behind our research is that, using improved techniques for measurement, analysis, and management, process water can be utilized in a far more intelligent manner than is current industrial practice. Our project – “Reuse of water in the food and bioprocessing industry” (REWARD) - proposes the novel idea of applying the successful principles of HACCP, Process Analytical Technology, and Quality by Design to the management of process and cleaning water in the food and bioprocessing industry.

The main aim of the REWARD project is to reduce water consumption. This will be achieved by:

-Maximizing reuse of process water and minimizing intake of potable water without compromising safety - working towards the closed factory - by implementing Process Analytical Technology and Quality by Design methodologies.

-Introduce active real-time measurement
based monitoring and control regimes of process and cleaning water for enhanced production and/or cost reductions in a sustainable way using dairy and fermentation processes as a model system and implementing the methods in full-scale production with the industrial partners.

-Enable real-time monitoring of the chemical and biological water quality and equipment surfaces by employing novel in-line spectroscopy and developing nanotechnology-based measurement principles.

-Forming a strategic research project and a knowledge platform between leading universities, major service providers and the industry aimed at solving problems related to water reuse by introducing new state of the art technologies and methodologies.

Within the project, Renzo Akkerman (Associate Professor at ORL) is in charge of work package 5, which focuses on water supply chain management. More specifically, this part of the project aims to find ways to integrate water reuse in methodologies for operations and supply chain management. This is an essential part of any initiative to minimize water consumption or maximize water reuse opportunities.

Project partners:
University of Copenhagen (Department of Food Science), Technical University of Denmark (Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology), Technical University of Munich (TUM School of Management), Wageningen University (Operations Research and Logistics group), DHI Group, Arla Foods, Novozymes, NIRAS, Tetra Pak Filtration Solutions, Alectia, LiqTech.

Related publications:
-Pulluru, S.J., Akkerman, R. (2017), Water-integrated scheduling of batch process plants : Modelling approach and application in technology selection, European Journal of Operational Research, in press (

-Pulluru, S.J., Akkerman, R., Hottenrott, A. (2017), Integrated production planning and water management in the food industry: A cheese production case study, Proceedings of the 27th European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering (ESCAPE 27), October 1-5, 2017, Barcelona, Spain.