European centre of excellence
for sustainable water technology

Wetsus News April 2017

Published: 19 april 2017

Wetsus team wins first stage of the George Barley Prize and receives $25.000

On March 22 it was announced that Wetsus won a prize of $25.000 for a phosphorus removal solution that we baptized “NaFRAd”. Prashanth Kumar pitched our solution in Florida and our idea was selected as the best of 77 entries. Only the top five participants was allowed to pitch. A Wetsus team had submitted the NaFRAd solution to recover phosphorus from surface water in the Everglades (Florida, USA), as part of the first stage of the George Barley prize contest.

Prashanth Kumar - Barley Prize

The George Barley prize is organized by the Everglades Foundation in their search to find cost-effective solutions to remove and recover phosphorus from surface water. There is a high demand in Florida for such a technology, as it would make it possible to restore the natural water flow through the Everglades and prevent toxic algae blooms at the coasts of Florida. Challenging demands have been set for the new technology. It should remove phosphorus to ultra low concentrations (10 ppb) with a very minimal footprint and at cost of less than 120$/kg P.

Wetsus proposed the NaFRAd-solution which is a combination of flocculation with natural flocculants and reversible adsorption with high capacity iron based adsorbents. In this way both particulate and soluble phosphorus can be removed with minimal waste formation. The phosphorus can be recovered as phosphate rock that can be used in the local fertilizer industry. These technologies find their origin in the Wetsus research themes Phosphate Recovery and Natural Flocculants. A video describing our solution can be found here. After winning the first stage, the Wetsus team now enters the second stage: testing and demonstrating on lab scale. There will be four stages, the last one operating the full system in Florida. The winner of that stage receives the prize of $10mln.

Student Wetsus Academy wins Changemaker Award Dopper Foundation

ERic Ziemann Dopper groot

Eric Ziemann, student of the Wetsus Academy and researcher at Wetsus, has won the Changemaker Award of the Dopper Foundation.

The prize of €3000 is awarded to a master student researching clean water solutions or plastic pollution. Eric focuses on antibiotics. After use, many antibiotics end up in our waters. Bacteria present in these waters can build up resistance to these antibiotics. Due to this, relatively innocent illnesses (like the flu) can become potentially lethal, like in the middle ages. Currently, we do not know the extent of the problem because measuring antibiotics is very difficult. To make a proper analysis possible, Wetsus researcher Eric Ziemann, wants to develop a novel method to detect and quantify various antibiotics in water. Only 1 on 3.5 trillion molecules in water is an antibiotic substance! With the support of Wetsus, and the prize money Eric has won in the Dopper Changemaker Challenge, he will develop an extraction technique, based on electric fields, to make unmeasurable antibiotics measurable.

New bridge for pedestrians at Wetsus grounds


Recently, a new bridge for pedestrians was opened at the Wetsus grounds. The bridge makes it easier to reach Wetsus for visitors who arrive in Leeuwarden by train and choose to take the 10 minute walk from the station to Wetsus.

The bridge, across the Potmarge river, was one of the final projects associated with the completion of our new building.

New call for PhD candidates online

PhD Positions

Wetsus is looking for excellent and highly motivated candidates with interest in water science and technology having an MSc degree in microbiology, chemistry, (applied) physics, bio-technology, chemical engineering, electronics, mechanical engineering, or related disciplines.

Please go to our dedicated PhD recruitment website.

Wetsus article “Highlight 2016”

The Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics has selected a Wetsus article as one of the “Highlights of 2016”.

Logo Journal oPhysics D

The article “A floating water bridge produces water with excess charge” (by Elmar C Fuchs, Martina Sammer, Adam D Wexler, Philipp Kuntke and Jakob Woisetschläger) was selected by the Editorial Board. Highlights in JPhysD are chosen on the basis of novelty, scientific impact and broadness of appeal. You can view all the JPhysD Highlights 2016 here.

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