• WWTP 2050: treatment of wastewater or recovery and reuse?

WWTP 2050: treatment of wastewater or recovery and reuse?

Published on 02.02.2017

On January 19 in Fribourg, Grégory Houillon and Yoann Le Goaziou of BG Consulting Engineers took part in a seminar on what wastewater treatment plants may look like in 2050. WWTPs have evolved over time and are continuing to do so with the treatment of micro-pollutants. Wastewater is rich in elements that can be recovered and reused, including nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus; organic matter in the form of energy such as biogas, hydrogen, electricity and district heating; materials such as bioplastics; and the water itself.

The seminar on the WWTP of the future, which aimed to explore the potential for wastewater recovery and reuse, was jointly organised by the Swiss-French Association for the Protection and Defence of Water (ARPEA), the Wastewater Treatment Plant Association of Western Switzerland (GRESE) and the Swiss Water Association (VSA). During the event’s thirteen presentations, panel discussion and debate, particular attention was given to the role of future operators, changes in legislation, financing issues, the importance of municipalities, etc.

Yoann Le Goaziou, Head of the Water Treatment Group in BG’s Water & Environment unit, presented the project “POWERSTEP - energy-positive wastewater treatment plants” along with Christian Loderer from the Berlin Centre of Competence for Water. This European research project builds on the process initiated by Carismo to maximise energy recovery from wastewater. Encompassing the entire WWTP sector, the objective of POWERSTEP is to demonstrate how a wastewater treatment plant can be energy-positive and connected to the smart grid. Six pilot sites in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland (Altenrhein) are currently testing this process for the WWTP of the future.

Grégory Houillon, Project Manager in BG’s Territorial Energy Planning unit, explained how life-cycle assessment (LCA) can help maximise energy recovery from wastewater treatment plants. LCA is an analytical tool used to quantify the environmental impact of a product or service over its entire life cycle. In the case of WWTPs, the plant size, type of water treatment process and transport distance all have a bearing on the environmental impact. In the course of his presentation, Mr Houillon provided a dozen or so examples demonstrating how LCA can be used to achieve quantitative environmental targets, improve sanitation in a city of 400,000 inhabitants, select systems for the recycling, treatment and disposal of sludge, and determine a treatment process for micro-pollutants, nitrogen, etc.


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