Water treatment is an integral part of the future circular economy
The WaterPro project researched and tested new ways to treat wastewater. The project produced valuable information on adsorption and on chemical and electrochemical precipitation. The final project seminar "New processes of the circular economy in water and wastewater treatment" was held in hybrid format in conjunction with the Kokkola Material Week on Wednesday 17 November 2021.
The WaterPro project focused on cost-efficient wastewater treatment in accordance with the circular economy principle and on recovering valuable substances.
The project sought a comprehensive solution for using industrial waste and effluent streams as new water treatment materials, for wastewater treatment and for recovering valuable substances such as nutrients and recycling them, for instance as fertilisers. The project researched and developed methods based on adsorption and precipitation.
Water treatment is a key part of the circular economy
Wastewater treatment is an important part of the future circular economy – production based on using recycled raw materials. Industry is being directed to utilise waste materials both by legislation and international and national strategies. Recovering valuable substances, such as nutrients, from wastewater is an important theme now and in the future.
“The project began in spring 2018, and many publications have been produced along the way”, says the project leader Henna Lempiäinen. She is a project researcher at Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius.
“WaterPro has given us a lot in terms of research, with a particular emphasis on companies playing an active role”, continues Professor Ulla Lassi of the University of Oulu, who says the project has already spawned new research funding. Lassi is head of the Sustainable Chemistry Research Group at the University of Oulu and director of the Division of Applied Chemistry at Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius.
The project yielded new information on recovering valuable substances from wastewater, the compatibility of different technologies, utilising waste materials and effluents in wastewater treatment and on designing sustainable processes.
“We are continuing to test the materials that have been developed using the mobile piloting equipment constructed in the project. The equipment, built by Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, can be scaled up beyond the scope of the treatment methods developed in the project and tests performed on the spot on the water to be treated”, Lempiäinen says.
Promising results from a number of treatment solutions
The final seminar summarised the research findings generated during the project. The seminar was led by project leader Lempiäinen and Professor Lassi.
Docent Sari Tuomikoski of the University of Oulu and the post-doctoral researchers Hanna Runtti and Janne Pesonen as well as researchers Esther Takaluoma and Tatiana Samarina of Kajaani University of Applied Sciences reported their research work to the international public.
This is how Lempiäinen sums up the outcome of the final seminar and the project:
“The presentations by the project’s researchers showed how many industrial effluents and waste materials can be utilised in water treatment. Currently significant amounts of valuable substances are lost in wastewater and could be recovered, for instance with water treatment products based on waste materials. The case studies demonstrated at the seminar showed that these types of circular economy solutions can be developed to meet future water treatment challenges.”
WaterPro has brought together Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, the University of Oulu and the Kerttu Saalasti Institute as well as Kajaani University of Applied Sciences. The project, therefore, was carried out across several regions, and financing for the project from the European Regional Development Fund has been granted by the Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia, the Council of the Oulu Region and the Regional Council of Kainuu. The city of Kokkola and companies in a number of industries were also involved in the project financing.