Currently, at least 1,6 billion people have insufficient access to clean drinking water. Local industries consume on average around two thirds of the available fresh water supply. Some of it may end up in a product, like lemonade, but most is used in the process and eventually discarded as wastewater.
In this research theme we aim for reducing industrial fresh water use and enabling water recycling through optimization of traditional water treatment technologies and developing new technologies.
Even in a water-rich country like the Netherlands, there is a local shortage of fresh water. For example, in the Province of Zeeland, in some areas fresh water has to be imported due to a lack of fresh ground water due to salt water intrusion. This worldwide problem, is quite common in cities close to the coast, where the use of fresh ground water leads to the replacement of fresh by salt water.
Environmental Technology aims to manage supply and demand of fresh water by developing modelling scenarios and implementing water treatment technologies to reuse or safely discard industrial wastewater. Since water scarcity is expected to increase in the future, technologies are more focused towards recycling and reusing wastewater. In addition, technologies to treat and clean historical polluted ground water are developed to prevent that the pollution reaches fresh water resources.
- Water Nexus. This project aims to better deal with salt water when fresh water is scarce. It’s slogan: ‘salt water when possible, fresh water when needed’, is translated into better fresh water management, developing better desalination technologies, while integrating sustainable and cost-effective methods. In addition, (biological) treatment technologies enabling the use of salt water by only removing those substances that hinder use of saline water (some salts and pesticides) and maintaining those that are beneficial to the end use (nutrients). Finally, models are used to optimally manage and control freshwater and saline water quantities and qualities.
- Optimizing the use of constructed wetlands for removing chemicals from cooling tower water, particularly in winter, when the biological processes are slow.
- Using the right microorganisms for cleaning historically polluted sites of DSM, where polluted groundwater flows towards the Muse river. Finding the right microbiota, while optimizing the environmental conditions for a more efficient biodegradation is a crucial part of this project.