Sharing knowledge, conducting joint analyses, innovating, exploring legal possibilities and impediments, and researching market opportunities: these are the key focus areas of the collaboration between the Energy & Raw Materials Factory (EFGF), the waterboards and AquaMinerals.
The ‘sand testbed’ is the reason for the collaboration. The treatment of wastewater generates sand. This sand can be seen as a raw material for a variety of applications, which still need to be explored. The sand could therefore be usefully recycled. This would also produce cost-savings, because the sand would be collected before it ended up in the wastewater treatment process.
The ultimate objective is to have the sand testbed lead to the development of one or more attractive chains (from sand to raw material), starting in 2018. In the meantime, more than half of the Dutch waterboards are participating in the testbed and the need for this kind of collaboration has been made clear.
The drinking water companies are experienced in the research, purchase and sale of materials like sand. They conduct these activities through the AquaMinerals collective. This is one of the reasons that the waterboards are working with EFGF and AquaMinerals.
Other raw materials
The waterboards do not see wastewater as a waste product, but as a source of renewable raw materials, energy and clean water. Collaborating within the Energy & Raw Materials Factory, the waterboards conduct research into the recovery of materials like struvite, cellulose, alginate, bioplastics and biomass. Lime pellets, aquafers and humic acids are examples of raw materials that are recovered from drinking water production processes. In order to close the chains, the different organisations and governments are collaborating and bundling their forces in an increasingly logical manner. The target is not only sustainability, but also cost-savings over the long term.