Resource Recovery from Water Cluster

The issues important for our water future are to integrate the concept of cyclic economy in the world of water supply and use.  Clearly, the current water footprint is already 3 times that of the planet and by focusing on recovery and recycling, we should be able to come to a better sustainability in the water sector. Concomitantly, this approach should bring forward the potential to decrease the costs of maintaining and running the utilities.

IWA Resource Recovery Cluster aims to bring together R&D, water industry and materials users, and to promote economically and environmentally attractive approaches to resource recovery.

The strategic objectives of the resource recovery cluster are:

  • To promote resource recovery from water and wastewater
  • To network on innovations of resource recovery through conferences, meetings, working groups, publications
  • To promote links with complementary organizations to find ways to build value chains

The core issues of the Resource Recovery Cluster are to innovate science, technology and business which promote the recovery of resources from the drinking and used water treatment facilities. Indeed, the current mindset is that various types of side products generated during the production of drinking water such as for instance CaCO3-rich sludge, iron sludge and humic acids can be upgraded to products usable for the glass industry, the flocculation and treatment of sludge and the production of crops. Similarly, for used water, one can think of recovering not only biogas, but also items such as alginates, paper, fibers, struvite, nitrogen and most of all the reclaimed water itself. The one key technology which will change the field is the upgrading of active nitrogen present in used water to a valuable component in the production of feed and food.

The priorities of the Cluster for 2015 are to organize the first IWA Conference on Resource Recovery from Water, from Aug 29 to Sept 2 in Ghent, Belgium ( Moreover the Cluster has selected the 2015 Award for Best Practices in Resource Recovery from Water (RRfW). Various actions will be set up to activate the demand side for resources recovered from water. The latter will be done by trying to cooperate with various other sectors outside the domain of water as for instance the food and feed industry, the chemical industry and the solid waste industry, etc.

Lead by Prof. Willy Verstraete (Chair, Ghent University, Belgium) and Prof. Peter Cornel (Co-Chair, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany), the cluster has considered several sub-areas to work on:

  • Research and technological innovations: Leads: Lars Angenent and Aijie Wang
  • Development of the market (demand) side: Leads: Olaf Van der Kolk and Ludwig Hermann
  • Networking activities and dissemination: Leads: Korneel Rabaey and Hong Li
  • Best practices, jointly working together with KWR.

If you are interested in contributing to the cluster or need more information, please feel free to contact the cluster secretary Dr. Ilje Pikaar or IWA manager Dr. Hong Li


Resource Recovery Cluster: Best Practice Award: Winner announced

Background and requirements

Driven by environmental, economic, and ecological benefits, resource recovery from waste has started to draw attention worldwide. Recovering resources from water and wastewater can provide an alternative and economically viable source of resources supporting the resilience of human and natural systems under water stress. Resources from the water cycle can be water itself, energy (organic or thermal) and components such as nutrients and metals.

A range of new initiatives are underway to promote and accelerate the development and uptake of resource recovery science and technologies. Innovation on resource recovery in the water cycle has been developing fast, but examples of large scale and marketable applications from current scientific innovations are scarce. The key issue here is how to move from research to practice, while also taking into account: a. the market potential for the resource recovered, b. appropriate public policy, regulation and institutional arrangements to support and accelerate resource recovery and c. stakeholders’ needs well integrated with technologies, markets, policy, new initiatives, current research and practice. Some example of Best Practices can be found here.

A best practice, is a proven technology on resource recovery, applied at full or demonstrative scale in the water cycle, which can serve as an excellent example for another country, area, company, etc.

Partnered with the KWR Watercycle Research Institute in the Netherlands, IWA Resource Recovery Cluster 2015 Award has been selected by the international judging committee, which includes:

  1. W. Verstraete, chairman (IWA Resource Recovery Cluster)
  2. J. Cramwinckel (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Switzerland)
  3. E. Namkung (Myungji University, Republic of Korea)
  4. B. Lesjean (KWB Berlin, Germany)
  5. J. Boere (KWR, the Netherlands)
  6. D. Daigger (IWA past president, USA)

The following criteria were used to select the best practice in resource recovery:

  • Innovative character of the best practice in resource recovery
  • Applied/Application potential (or potential on further scaling up)
  • Positive environmental impact
  • Active cooperation within the value chain with all stakeholders
  • Positive business case
  • Cross-sectoral cooperation is highly appreciated

Winner for 2015 RR Award:

The International Water Association’s Resource Recovery Best Practice Award 2015 has been awarded jointly to Waternet, Restoffenunie and industrial companies Ardagh Glass and Desso, for their inspired work on recycling calcium carbonate from wastewater for use in three industrial processes. For information, please see the IWA news item relating to this award.


Documents and reports from members of this group