Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

SuPER-W Report Summary

Project ID: 676070
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SuPER-W (Sustainable Product, Energy and Resource Recovery from Wastewater)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2018-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

"Treatment of wastewater is almost always treated as a destruction or removal of pollutants. However, many components contained in polluted water can be of significant economic benefit. As wastewater treatment is globally applied, there is a vast potential.
The proposed joint doctorate programme ""Sustainable Product, Energy and Resource Recovery from Wastewater"" (SuPER-W) contributes to the excellence of Europe in the field of resource recovery from wastewater, by developing skills in emerging water technologies, meanwhile coping with the increased need for water professionals and the natural aging of the present population of professionals in the water community. In the multidisciplinary field of resource recovery from wastewater, it
• brings together eminent scientists and non-academic sector representatives from multiple key disciplines to train young professionals, to optimise existing technologies and develop novel integrated technologies for product, energy and resource recovery from wastewater, to identify (potential) bottlenecks in the implementation and exploitation of these technologies and to stimulate policy input formulation.
● stimulates collaborations between the institutions involved that should also lead to better harmonisation of the doctoral programmes, strengthening the interaction and exchange of academic and non-academic resources.
● supports technology development at large enterprises as well as stimulate the development of new technologies through spin-offs and SMEs.

To realise these objectives, SuPER-W creates an international doctoral training programme involving 5 academic institutes: Ghent University (UGent, coordinator), Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen), University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague (VSCHT Prague) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).
The doctoral training programme offers top doctoral candidates a position in an international context, in alliance with industrial partners involved in technology development, services, consultancy, engineering, and policy making. Next to completion of this joint doctoral training programme, the ESRs will aim at obtaining a joint PhD degree from at least two of the involved academic institutions.
"

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Vacancies in the SuPER-W Doctoral training programme for scholarships were widely advertised (e.g., newsletters, mailing lists), including particularly the International Water Association (IWA) network. Out of many applicants, 15 candidates were recruited as Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and enrolled for the programme. In the meantime, the necessary agreements were closed between all involved parties, legalising the partnerships and defining responsibilities.
Each of the ESRs was appointed a Doctoral Guidance Committee. These committees exist of promotor(s) and academics as well as of non-academic experts. Next, the ESRs were asked to write a detailed planning to identify and outline their goals on four levels: research, personal training, dissemination and outreach activities. A feed-back loop was installed to make sure that the students can regularly report on their progress towards their supervisors and the programme.
The research conducted by the ESRs in the first year was mainly about grasping the individual concepts and familiarising themselves with the work environment, technologies involved as well as to pinpoint their specific goals and set up experiments accordingly.
Regarding training, every ESR has chosen a personal training trajectory, both in complementary as in technical skills. Next to the personal training skills, 5 network wide training workshops were organised that needed all ESRs to participate. In these events, general skills were instructed in the multidisciplinary fields linked to resource recovery from wastewater. In every network wide training event, a PhD seminar was organised to give ESRs the opportunity to present their results and obtain valuable feed-back. Network-wide training events further included a variety of miscellaneous events like e.g. field trips, a panel debate, brain storm sessions etc.
Regarding outreach, four teams of ESRs were created. One group of ESRs has designed and maintains the SuPER-W website ( https://www.superw.ugent.be/ ), creates a blog and contributes to social media like Twitter and LinkedIn. Another group is developing a classroom workshop on sustainability and innovative wastewater treatment. A third group focuses on developing a workshop on electrochemical resource recovery. A last group of ESRs contributes to a MOOC on resource recovery from wastewater that is developed by UGent.
All ESRs will spend a dedicated time of at least 6 months during their PhD in a second academic institute, besides their home institute. Moreover, the ESRs are planning an internship of at least 2 months with a non-academic partner.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The ESRs have already gained deeper insights and technical skills concerning modern communication and networking tools, membrane solutions for recovery of wastewater, environmental modelling tools and global environmental issues. Complementary skills like creative thinking, project management, networking and communication with modern communication tools, reporting, presentation and debating skills, scientific writing, IP management etc. have been acquired and improved. ESRs are now striving towards a better integration of the PhD topics they individually work on throughout the network.

In particular, advancements and novel insights have been made in:
- developing and implementing (model-based) tools and technologies to convert wastewater treatment systems into resource recovery systems
- the improvement of existing technologies towards resource recovery
- water reuse and the selective recovery of metals and macronutrients in wastewaters
- experience with working in an academic context
- participating in specialised community platforms like IWA and emerging initiatives with active involvement of (non-academic) stakeholders like CAPTURE and R2T
- intercultural and interpersonal communication
- adaptability and flexibility regarding mobility throughout their PhD
- communication planning and strategies for outreach to non-specialist audiences
- policy decision making aspects

Other skills that are in progress of being acquired are
- advanced interaction with the non-academic sector
- successfully delivering project outputs towards research, training, outreach and dissemination
- identification of bottlenecks for successful implementation of novel technologies and attempts to circumvent these
- entrepreneurship skills

The project also allows the coordinator, his Faculty and the institutions involved to build up valuable experience with the setup and organisation of (Marie Curie) joint doctorate projects.
Future outreach and dissemination activities are planned and it is expected that these will generate more impact outside the network. Moreover, a higher level of involvement of the non-academic sector is also aimed for. Accordingly, it is anticipated that socio-economic and wider societal impacts will mainly be achieved in the second half of the project.
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