European centre of excellence
for sustainable water technology

Wetsus News December 2017

Published: 18 december 2017
Kerstwens 2018

Magnetic recovery of phosphate from sludge

In January the ViviMag project will start, involving the development of a novel phosphate recovery route. Magnetic separators will be used to separate out the paramagnetic phosphate-mineral vivianite, present in digested sewage sludge, for subsequent reuse. This solution has the potential to drastically reduce sludge disposal costs and reduce Europe’s dependency on phosphate-rock imports. The project builds on patented findings of the Phosphate recovery theme and is funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology through EIT RawMaterials. The project is coordinated by Wetsus and done in partnership with TU Delft, Outotec, ICL Fertilizers Europe and Kemira.

Logo Appsen

Appsen joins Wetsus

As a spin-off company from Wetsus, Appsen has unique expertise in the field of sulfide and metal ion sensors and (bio)gas desulfurization technology. Appsen currently is in the development process of a full-scale sensor for sulfur and metal ions. In order to bring the proposed sensor technology to market, Appsen established collaboration with AquaColor Sensors, Extins Technologies and Wetsus, as a platform participant.

Again success for Wetsus in the $10 M George Barley prize

barley stage 2

Earlier this year Wetsus took home $25.000 from Florida when we won the first stage of the George Barley Prize. In October Wetsus again was successful and won the second stage of this prize contest, in an international field of 100 participants. For this second stage a prize of $50.000 was awarded to us. A very rewarding result as this contest is really at the core of what Wetsus is about: realizing breakthrough technologies for global problems.

Why a George Barley prize
The George Barley prize challenges people all over the world to come up with a compact and affordable solution to remove phosphorus from surface water to very low concentrations (<10 ppb P). In this way eutrophication and toxic algae blooms can be prevented. These algae blooms are a big issue in Florida and that is the reason why the Everglades Foundation started this challenge. Historically the river water would flow via the Everglades nature reserve to the ocean. Nowadays that is not possible because the river water contains too much phosphorus and would hurt the sensitive ecosystem. Instead the river water is canalized to the ocean where it creates algae blooms. A compact and affordable phosphorus removal technology would make it possible to restore the natural flow through the Everglades. The prize is named after George Barley, an environmentalist that has done a lot to protect the Everglades.

A global impact
Such a technology would however also have impact in many other places in the world that suffer from eutrophication. That is why the third stage, the pilot stage, will take place in Ontario, Canada. This is the region of the Great Lakes and every summer these lakes suffer from harmful algae blooms that sometimes even hurt the drinking water production. But also closer to home, algae blooms are very frequent and extensive in the Baltic Sea or even in lakes in The Netherlands.

A contest in four stages
The prize contest is designed in such a way that it stimulates innovation and supports the scaling up of the proposed technologies. In the first stage participants only had to submit their idea on paper. In the second stage the competition required a two week certified, continuous lab test to show that one can indeed remove phosphorus down to 10 ppb. But the requirements are not only about technology: participants also had to submit an environmental impact report and a plan plus video on the business model for their concept. An international jury of experts declares the winner of each stage.

By winning the second stage Wetsus qualified together with nine other teams for the third stage of the contest. In this stage the participants have to run a pilot plant during three months in Ontario, Canada. The four best teams are then invited to the final, fourth stage where they can win 10 million $. For this they need to realize a demonstration scale plant.

The Wetsus NaFRAd technology
The NaFRAd technology is a two-step technology where particulate phosphorus is removed through flocculation and adsorption is used to remove the soluble phosphorus.
The basis of the flocculation technology comes from Wageningen University & Research, whereas the adsorption technology has its origin at the Delft University of Technology. To come full circle, each of these technologies is made possible as a result of funding provided by companies within the Wetsus framework. These companies will ultimately commercialize the technology.


Award for AquaBattery

Wetsus spin-off company AquaBattery has won the Accenture Innovation Award this year, in the category Circular Economy. After several rounds of pitching the Blue Battery, the company convinced the jury during the finals in Utrecht. The Blue Battery is a very innovative, sustainable electrical storage system that stores electricity solely using water and table salt. Read more about it at AquaBattery.

Water toolkit sailing across the globe


The Wetsus Water Professor toolkit is currently travelling the world.

Wetsus was asked by the organization of the Volvo Ocean Race to contribute to their water awareness program. The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the most challenging sailing events in the world, sailing from city to city. In each city the event tries to raise awareness for the current world water issues. 

Local schools are invited to visit the port and follow several programs. Wetsus contributes in this by sharing the Water Professor concept. All our toolkits are being shipped by the crew to the different locations, where local Water Professors and ambassadors are motivating youngsters to contribute to a better world.
It is great to see the reactions and excitement when they carry out our experiments. This picture is taken in Cape Town, South Africa, with special guest Pierre van Hooijdonk, a famous football player.

See DutchWavemakers for more!

European WaterCampus Business Challenge: you can register!


Interested in starting your own water technology company but unsure how to do that? It is now possible to sign up for the 9th edition of the European WaterCampus Business Challenge (EWCBC). The EWCBC 2018 will be organized from March 12-16, 2018. During this week you will meet peers, talk with innovative companies and get to pitch for serious investors, launching customers and technology partners. In past editions participation in the European WCBC has resulted in great success stories. A large part of the companies from the previous 8 editions are still successfully active in the water business. For the 2018 edition we will again invite startups and PhD with entrepreneurial ambitions from all over Europe to create a big rub off effect and create win-win situations for all.

For more information and registration: European WaterCampus Business Challenge 2018

Hello Science, a new collaboration platform for clean water

logo HelloScience

Wetsus participant Grundfos and their partner Novozymes kick off collaboration for clean water. Biology and pump technology are combined, when these two leading global players enter an open innovation collaboration to find new solutions to the world’s water challenges.

The partnership takes place on You can browse HelloScience and take a closer look at the challenges.

combining scientific excellence with commercial relevance