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Accelerating Water Circularity in Food and Beverage Industrial Areas around Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AccelWater (Accelerating Water Circularity in Food and Beverage Industrial Areas around Europe)

Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2022-04-30

The food and beverage industry is EU’s biggest manufacturing sector. At the same time, it is is one of the most water and energy intensive industries worldwide, while the companies belonging to that sector produce a lot of waste. More specifically, the food and beverage industry consumes 56% of the available water for industrial and urban use.

Additionally, food processing embeds 28% of the total energy used for production, while the total direct energy consumed by the European food industry amounted to 28.4 Mt oil equivalent, while 30.6 Mt of food waste are produced in this industry. Although, huge steps have been made in increasing the water use efficiency through the use of modern technologies and methods, there is limited effort from the food and beverages industry to minimize freshwater use during the raw material processing.

In addition, high water consumption in industrial areas lead to increased production costs due to the fact that the tariffs for public wastewater treatment can be very high in European cities as well as the industrial electricity prices can also be very high. Currently, solutions for wastewater treatment in industries include the use of clarification, membrane filtration, reverse osmosis, process water polishing, disinfection with water treatment chemicals and UV, and biological treatment technologies. However, the use of these technologies under a water-waste-energy nexus is very limited.

AccelWater’s project main objective is to optimize freshwater water consumption in the food and beverage industry under a water-waste-energy nexus by introducing beyond state-of-the-art water reclaiming, reusing and Artificial Intelligence enabled monitoring and control technologies that will permit the use of reclaimed water in the manufacturing processes of food and beverages. At the same time, it will allow waste and energy reclamation, optimization and management and consequently, will result to environmental sustainability, cost savings and the development of added value products and value chains through material recovery.

The project’s objectives are:
- Develop, integrate and demonstrate water reclaiming and reusing technologies
- Develop, integrate and demonstrate waste valorization technologies
- Develop, integrate and demonstrate energy recovery and reuse technologies
- Develop, integrate and demonstrate modern ICT solutions for optimizing food and beverage production with focus on water and environmental sustainability
- Establish the water-waste-energy nexus for circular economy and environmental assessment
- Replicate this concept to as many other places as possible with additional funding for increasing the project’s impact
- Train the current and next generation of the employees to the water-waste-energy nexus

Additionally, AccelWater responds to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which encourages the peace and prosperity for the current and next generations of people as well as the planet’s sustainability.
From the beginning of the project until M18 (the duration of this reporting period), the work implemented so far can be summarised as follows:
- the guidelines for effectively managing and implementing the project have been set
- all ethical issues have been resolved
- several potential risks have been foreseen, along with their mitigation measures, in addition to clearly describing the processes to ensure the quality of the project
- the processing, monitoring, classification and dissemination of data during the lifecycle of the project have been defined
- the design of the Industrial Symbiosis Demonstrator has been successfully completed
- the design of the Tomato Processing Demonstrator has been successfully completed
- the design of the Meat Processing Demonstrator has been successfully completed
- the design of the Fish Processing Demonstrator has been successfully completed
- the user requirements have been gathered
- the architecture of the system of systems has been completed
- a communication and dissemination plan, describing in detail the ways and means of dissemination has been compiled, including a set of KPIs to measure its success
- the AccelWater digital newsletter was first published on M6, and is since being published every three months
- additionally, various printed and digital dissemination materials have been produced
- An introductory animated video has been produced and uploaded to the AccelWater YouTube channel (
The AccelWater project consortium, by implementing the proposed methodology which is a holistic approach combining different types of technologies for achieving resource and water efficiency, has estimated a 30% increase compared to the current state-of-the-art. The core system of this holistic approach will be the AccelWater platform, which will be based on AI and big data analytics, and will be used as an orchestrator in the production lines of each demonstrator.
As described in T7.2 the architecture of this platform will be based on beyond state-of-the-art methodologies that will:
- assimilate data from various sources (IoT data, water, waste and energy data) with different temporal resolution (daily, real time data)
- measure different parameters (water quantity, pH, energy consumption, waste production)
- control various actuators (power switches, solenoid valves)

The design of all demonstrators has been completed and the implementation of all systems has begun, therefore until the completion of this phase there are no tangible results to be compared to the state-of-the-art.

Regarding the expected results, these are:
- water and energy saving
- reduction of the environmental footprint
- reduction of the amount of resources wasted
- re-use of energy, water and by-products
- production of new ingredients that could bring additional economic benefits to the participating companies

The impact the project is expected to have, can be summarised in the following:
- Significant reduction of the current use of fresh water resources
- Significant steps towards near-zero discharge using closed-loop systems in industrial processes
- Significant increase of the recovery of water, energy and/or substances and materials
- Increase of resource and water efficiency by 30% compared to the state-of-the-art
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