Ensuring resource quality in circular systems
The current linear economy has to be replaced by a circular economy to avoid resource depletion and reduce pollution. This means that waste is no longer discarded, and that valuable components present are extracted and reused as raw material for new products.
In this research theme we aim to develop and assess current and novel technologies to guarantee safe resource recovery from waste and wastewater in the circular economy.
Resource quality can limit reuse of the resource for a particular application. For example, wastewater contains valuable components, like phosphorous, nitrogen and water, but also pollutants. Depending on the reuse, different quality standards for recovered resources apply. Recycled water aimed for irrigation or industrial purposes has different quality requirements than drinking water. Thus, to maximize efficiency, resource quality supply should match resource quality demand.
At Environmental Technology, different research projects focus on the development, application and adaptation of treatment technologies for the recovery of resources. In the theme Resource Quality in the Circular Economy, researchers focus especially on which quality requirements are needed to reuse resources in different applications. The research aims at determining the quality of resources that can be supplied using the available or adapted technologies, and matching this to reuse applications. For example, the theme contributes to circular agricultural systems by developing technologies to meet the quality standards to reuse recovered products from wastewater like nutrients and organics.
The most important research areas from ETE contributing to the circular economy are:
- Circular water systems: This research focuses on the removal of contaminants from wastewater to produce water of sufficient quality for different applications (industry, agriculture, drinking water). Existing treatment methods are combined, while novel technologies are developed.
- Circular Agriculture Systems: Here, technology is developed to ensure the quality of recovered nutrients, like phosphorous and nitrogen, and organic compounds from waste and wastewater for reuse in agricultural systems.
- Circular urban water systems: ETE’s urban water research focuses on designing safe water cycles for sustainable cities of the future. To meet the challenge of the complex water systems in cities, research focuses on assessing urban water quality, developing technologies to treat water locally, and matching water quality with specific uses, like irrigation or recreation.