Water quality, treatment & reclamation

Water quality deterioration is a big problem in large parts of the world. Polluted water provides a serious threat for people and ecosystems and costs associated with cleaning the water for drinking and other purposes. With our research we seek to  improve the monitoring system of the water system, by involving volunteers. The citizen science aspect has additional advantages in the fact that is raises awareness on water pollution and can be empowering for population affected by pollution. The commitment for volunteers to collaborate and the trust of professionals to really use the collected information goes hand in hand. Our monitoring approaches are being adopted in Vietnam and Myanmar.

The recent demand to convert the current linear economic setting to a more circular one also impacts the (waste)water sector. Wastewater is increasingly regarded is a mix of non-defined resources, which require treatment technologies oriented to recovery of these resources rather than just eliminating them. Anaerobic treatment is an eminent example of this approach and widening its application potentials is supportive to the current societal needs. At present, as a consequence of our research, the company Biothane-Veolia has implemented over 10 full-scale above-mentioned AnMBR reactor systems, whereas Paques is currently assessing the feasibility of this technology for chemical wastewaters.

Wastewater treatment for environmental protection is developing towards technologies that focus on resource efficiency and recovery, for its use in the bio-based economy. Research has been focused on the development of anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBR) for the high-level treatment of organically polluted wastewaters with concomitant energy recovery. Combining an absolute barrier with a biological treatment system ensures high quality effluents, whereas wastewaters are treated which are difficult to treat with more conventional technologies.