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Sustainable Reactor Engineering for Applications on the Water-Energy Nexus

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - REWATERGY (Sustainable Reactor Engineering for Applications on the Water-Energy Nexus)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2021-03-31

The EU is currently facing the challenge of recycling materials and water of high quality to become carbon neutral by decreasing its energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The current Water Framework Directive has strict regulations on a wide range of contaminants, and most treatments continuously increase the energy demand of the water cycle. Yet, the EU is committed to ambitious targets to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions, including the legally binding 2015 Paris agreement. These conflicting interests have motivated REWATERGY, a partnership within the water-energy nexus. This integrated network, led by industry in partnership with world leading academic institutions, envisions the scientific and technological opportunities of such challenges with direct economic and social impacts to the EU. Three research objectives set the foundation of this ambitious programme:
1.- Enhance the energy recovery from wastewater streams inspired by the circular economy concept.
2.- Improve the energy efficiency of water disinfection and removal of contaminants of emerging concern.
3.- Increase the resilience of distributed household safe drinking water systems addressing potential health and safety challenges.
The programme is particularly designed to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit by the collaborative design, development and manufacturing of new prototypes aligned with the three research objectives. This training concept will have a long term impact by providing a stream of highly trained innovative scientists and engineers able to communicate ideas and to develop creative solutions for the adoption of novel technologies in the market.
In the first year period, REWATERGY consortium started its activities with the successful hiring of 8 highly motivated Early-Stage Researchers (ESR) and the consolidation of their enrolment in doctoral programmes, as it was planned and foreseen in the project according to the EU requirements.
The recruitment process had no obstacles and was guided by The European Charter for Researchers (See section “Recruitment strategy” for more info). Recruitment process followed the hereunder steps:
- Starting date: 20th December 2018 - PhD positions advertised on EURAXESS, REWATERGY website and websites of the host institutions. Applications deadline: 31st May 2019.
- Final interviews with selected candidates: 27th June 2019.
- Signature of the first ESR contracts: 1st October 2019.
- Signature of the last ESR contract: 4th November 2019.
With regards to REWATERGY milestones already achieved:
- ESR recruitment completed: 4th November 2019.
- All recruited fellows enrolled in a PhD programme: 7th November 2019.
- First Training Event – Ulster University 16th -18th December 2019.
Upon recruitment, all the ESRs have already started the scientific research work in October/November 2019. During their first 6 months, they have received project-wide courses from the training program and specific training on relevant equipment in the individual ESR’s projects. Further activities include the acquisition of lab materials, design of the required experimental setup, and in-depth literature reviews to establish the details of their individual PhD thesis research plans.
WP4. Prototype I - Energy Recovery from Wastewater: Hydrogen Production
WP4 focuses on a novel photoelectrocatalytic system for ammonia decomposition with high efficiency and low energy cost. The overall aim of this WP4 is to achieve efficient removal of urea from wastewater by a process that enables its valorisation as a source of energy, inspired by the concept of circular economy. ESR1, ESR2, and ESR3 are involved in the development of this prototype I. Two routes will be developed for catalytic production of hydrogen from ammonia; a novel electrochemical route (ESR1) and an improved thermal route (ESR2) as well as the implementation of membrane reactors for the continuous processing of WW by linking kinetic studies and diffusion calculations (ESR3).

WP5. Prototype II - Energy Efficient Water Treatment: Photoelectrodisinfection
In WP5 a final prototype UV LED photochemical, photocatalytic or photoelectrochemical reactor will be designed, fabricated and tested, based on previous investigation of the most effective photogenerated green and energy-efficient WW treatment. The development of Prototype II will be achieved in two independent but inter-related research projects associated with ESR4 & 5.

WP6. Prototype III - Resilient Safe Drinking Water: Household UV-C Device
ESR6, 7 and 8 are involved in WP6. ESR7 & 8 are focused on the development of novel UV-C LED emitters at short wavelengths for direct water disinfection and ARGs and ABs oxidation (ESR6). Prototype III will be constructed focusing on the emission of UV-C light at the optimal wavelengths to be absorbed by DNA and selected emerging contaminants.