Studentenverhaal

Improved performance for waste water treatment plants

My name is Cris García Saravia and I’m currently studying my master's in Biosystems Engineering with the final track on Environmental Technology. I did my bachelor's studies in Environmental Engineering in my home country, México.

My project focuses on wastewater, and the aim is to help in the development of a strategy to improve the performance of their wastewater treatment plants.

I’m particularly interested in concepts of circular economy and how to close the cycles within a production chain, from the primary resources to the end life of the product, including all energy and material flows, this is highly related to (bio)system analysis and modelling, areas in which this master gives you really useful knowledge and tools.

So, for my internship, I wanted to find a project that allowed me to understand the whole production chain of a company and get to know the main impacts and challenges regarding sustainability and resource use efficiency. That is how I started my internship at Heineken-Global Supply Chain, for the Sustainable Utilities and Environment department.

Within this department, all issues related to environmental impact in all Heineken’s breweries around the world are addressed and discussed. My project focuses on wastewater, and the aim is to help in the development of a strategy to improve the performance of their wastewater treatment plants (WWTP).

To achieve this, I’m working on two focus points: First a model that uses the reported data of every brewery to predict the water and organic load that goes in and out the WWTP so that it automatically points out if any of the breweries starts to underperform and the potential causes of this among the production chain. And secondly, a Handbook to help the WWTP operators understand the processes occurring within the WWTP, the best practices, and the bigger picture of why improving the environmental impact is relevant not just for the brewery, but for the whole system in which the brewery is placed.

A great part of being a Wageningen master's student is that it gives you the chance to get connected with many different types of industries and to apply the knowledge from your studies into real-life problems. This is a great opportunity to challenge yourself while enjoying what you are doing.