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Valorisation of the organic content of wastewater as feedstock, contributing to the renewable circular economy

Develop innovative processes and technologies for separation of wastewater organic content or of some relevant fractions, and transform these into bio-based products. Proposals must include recovery and valorisation of a significant fraction of the useable components in the subject wastewater, and associated sludge, minimising the production of waste to be disposed.

Proposals should show the impact on the full value chain, and include the end-products foreseen. When obtaining intermediate products, quality and purity of these intermediates must be such that they enable conversion into the targeted end-products without further purification steps.

Proposals should provide evidence of the relevance of the wastewater stream(s) chosen for experimental validation, ensuring high replicability of the developed solution across Europe. Proposals should present a credible cost estimate for the proposed processes with a preliminary assessment of their competitiveness when scaled up.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) covered by the projects should reach Level 5.

Proposals should also include a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed process.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget in the range of EUR 2-5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.

Wastewater of agricultural, industrial as well as municipal origin contains organic matter, and/or nutrients that can lead to eutrophication if discharged to aquatic systems.

On the other hand, these types of sludge also contain potentially valuable components (chemicals, sugars, oils, bioactive compounds, proteins, etc.) for bio-based industries that are currently not exploited. Using wastewater as a source of bio-based feedstock contributes to unlocking alternative biomass feedstock sources and helps to create new value chains for a strong bioeconomy. Moreover, valorising wastewater streams into bio-based products contributes to realising the EU circular economy through agricultural and industrial symbiosis, i.e. collaboration between producers to use each other’s by-products.

The challenge is to develop technologies for the recovery and conversion of the bio-based components in wastewater from industrial activities (chemical, pulp and paper, agro-food, etc.) or from municipal sewage to bio-based products.

  • Validated comparable or better recovery rates as compared to competing technologies.
  • Recycling or reuse of at least 10% in (dry) weight of the suspended solid fractions.
  • Contribution to the BBI JU Key Performance Indicators (KPI), specifically:
    • Creation of at least 1 new cross-sectorial interconnection in bio-based economy clusters (KPI 1) and at least 1 new cooperation project through cross-industry clusters (KPI 3).
    • Set the foundation of at least 1 new bio-based value chain (KPI 2) and at least 1 new bio-based material (KPI 5).