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The blue circle

Sustainable wastewater reuse and residual flow recovery

Because of the scarcity of water sources, more and more companies are “reusing” wastewater. However, the present wastewater treatment techniques allow only a partial water recuperation. This also leads to concentrate flows for which it is increasingly difficult to obtain a waste disposal licence. The lack of an appropriate treatment technique of concentrate flows that often prevents the implementation of a far reaching water reuse.

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WATER: a precious and protected good

Since two decade, Europe is faced with water scarcity; about half of the European countries lacks good quality water. Relatively clean ground and surface water is getting scarce, not in the least due to increasing pollution.
This scarcity is aggravated by i) the increasing need of healthy drinking water, as a result of the growing population and prosperity, ii) the incompetent/improper industrial use, and iii) an increasing worldwide water consumption. Water is therefore a precious good that has to be surrounded with the utmost care.
Since December 22nd, 2000n the The EU Water Framework Directive applies and sketches the outlines of a uniform water management in the entire European Union.
The Directive determines that by the end of 2015, a good surface water and a good ground water state have to be reached.

WATER: an industrial commodity

Water is one of the major commodities in both agriculture and industry. It fulfils numerous functions as eg. drinking water, cooling oil, reaction medium, transportation medium (textile industry and laundry) and as nutrient in the production of goods.
Because of present and future societal developments, the availability of sufficient and quality water on each and every moment, will no longer be self-evident. This is the major incentive to close the industrial water circle, i.e to optimize the water management. This endeavour aims at drastically diminishing the water consumption and/or at influencing the water quality by reducing emissions in the water.

CONCENTRATE FLOWS : a secondary commodity

Closing the water circle inevitably creates concentrate flows. At present they are considered as undesired waste flows and as a bottleneck to intensive water reuse. However, an integrated approach and the application of adequate, innovative concentration and purification techniques might transform them into a source of secondary commodities.
This is completely in line with the European waste management Framework Directive 2008/98 EC that aims at reconverting the classical waste management into a closed-circle material and commodity management. Not only water but also commodities in concentrate flows are recycled and go through several circles. Closing the circle is therefore an integral change process with technical, organisational, economic and societal aspects.
The search of necessary integrated measures implies a “different look” on the process. The water technology suppliers can play an active role in stimulating integrated measures, since they dispose of the technological knowledge and information about:

  • Water management: which flows are appropriate for reuse
  • Industrial water (re)use
  • Water fit-to-use: the right water quality for each application
  • Concentrate flows: which types of flows are generated during water reuse

Objectives of the project:

  • increasing recovery when closing the circle
  • developing a total concept for the treatment of inorganic salt flows
  • validation of new technologies
  • valorisation of salts
  • development of a SME sized “central concentrate treatment” concept
  • promote Flanders as a region of expertise in the field of integral water reuse
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Start date: 
01 Jul 2012
End date: 
30 Jun 2015