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Towards a next generation of water systems and services for the circular economy.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NextGen (Towards a next generation of water systems and services for the circular economy.)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

Europe’s communities are in many ways uniquely placed to transition from a linear to a Circular Economy (CE) model. This opportunity is relevant and urgent in the water sector where largely linear production - consumption - disposal chains exacerbate resource depletion issues, contributing to increasingly volatile raw material and energy costs. A radical redesign of water services to deliver a new generation of validated, progressive solutions to underpin the CE model is urgently required.
The main objectives of the NextGen project are to develop and demonstrate novel technological, business and governance solutions for water in the CE in ten high-profile, large-scale, demonstration cases across Europe, and to develop the necessary approaches, tools and partnerships, to transfer and upscale. The CE transition to be driven by NextGen encompasses a wide range of water-embedded resources: water itself, energy and materials (e.g. nutrients).
In the second reporting period, Month 19 to 36, all of the sites have started their demonstration activities and, except from the new demo case of Timisoara (RO), all of them are fully operational. In brief, the following circular water technologies are being demonstrated: 1) Braunschweig: two-stage digestion and sludge hydrolyses, nutrient recovery (ammonia stripping and struvite precipitation); 2) Costa Brava: multipurpose water reclamation and reuse, membrane filtration with regenerated RO membranes; 3) Westland Region: closing the regional water cycle (urban water management, ASR for horticulture), High-Temperature Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage and regional energy balance, material brokerage; 4) Altenrhein: ammonium membrane stripping, P recovery by thermochemical treatment of sludge, granulated activated carbon via pyrolysis; 5) Spernal: multi-stream anaerobic MBR for district-scale reuse applications, energy recovery from AnMBR, nutrient recovery from AnMBR via adsorption and ion exchange; 6) La Trappe: metabolic network reactor to produce of fit-for-purpose water, protein production in Bio-Makery; 7) Gotland: rainwater harvesting and decentralised membrane treatment, energy efficient reclamation of wastewater; 8) Athens: sewer mining mobile wastewater treatment for decentralized reuse, heat recovery from MBR, nutrient recovery for urban agriculture; 9) Filton Airfield: integrated drainage systems for urban water reuse, heat recovery from sewer, eco-sanitation systems with nutrients recovery; 10) Timisoara: sludge management with production of by-products and/or energy, reuse of effluent for urban, industrial and agricultural applications.
All Work Packages of NextGen have progressed well in their activities. In summary: first version Technology Evidence Base, technology demonstrations at demo cases operational (WP1), environmental and economic assessment at frontrunners, modelling design options, Toolkit (WP2), 2nd/3rd CoP rounds, public outreach inspiration, AR app virtual demo city, SG virtual toy town (WP3), social acceptability survey, regulatory framework assessment (WP4), circular business models and value chain study, market assessment for spinoffs, online Marketplace (WP5), communication activities (website, social media, videos), connect with EU policy, international replication potential (WP6), data management, scientific quality assurance, management Covid-19 delays (WP7), ethics requirements (WP8).
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the progress, we managed to reschedule some of the tasks so that the NextGen objectives can be reached .
NextGen goes beyond current approaches that target incremental improvements of water, resource and energy efficiency and provides a whole value chain, CE approach demonstrated at large scales. Its technologies, services and business models, are able to decrease resource abstraction from nature and waste disposal to nature. The project bridges the gap between investment needs and available funds by creating new services. It assembles some of the most innovative sites in Europe and combines circular water solutions with tested tools for active involvement of stakeholders at a range and scale never assembled before.
By introducing innovative solutions for closing the cycles of the water system, NextGen contributes to the challenges of water scarcity, raw materials depletion and climate change, based on proven, successful experiences. In total 19 Expected Impacts have been identified, all linked to quantifiable Key Performance Indicators (KPI). The monitoring of the KPIs shows that NextGen is on the right course to provide technological and regulatory outputs to the local and global level, involving citizens up to decision makers, to spread NextGen’s circular economy solutions.
Project participants NextGen at the kick-off meeting