University of Twente Student Theses


Wastewater as a resource : strategies to recover resources from Amsterdam’s wastewater

Fooij, Heleen de (2015) Wastewater as a resource : strategies to recover resources from Amsterdam’s wastewater.

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Abstract:Since resource recovery is a sustainable way to deal with resource scarcity, Waternet wants to recover resources from Amsterdam’s water chain. Prior to this study, there was no overview of what resources are present in the wastewater chain, what measures exist to recover these resources and how these measures interact. Therefore, this study explored strategies regarding resource recovery from Amsterdam’s wastewater to enable coherent and adaptable resource recovering policymaking. Material flow analysis focused on water, organic matter and phosphorus and resulted in their flows through Amsterdam’s wastewater chain. These material flows are presented in flow or Sankey diagrams. The diagrams show what resources are available, where they originate and which resources are currently recovered. Most of the organic matter and phosphorus is transferred into sludge, which is digested to produce biogas, and 16% of the phosphorus is recovered as struvite. In the measure characterization phase of the research, nine criteria were used to evaluate the measures’ impacts on resource recovery and to enable strategy development. Since the measures influence resource flows in the wastewater chain, they were organized based on their position in this chain. The criteria include changes to resource flows and resource recovery, the relative desirability or value of the recovered products and measures’ implementation horizons. Per measure the criteria were presented in a spreadsheet for easy comparison. The four strategies that were developed each focus on the maximum recovery of one product: alginic acid, bioplastics, cellulose or phosphorus. However, the strategies also include recovery of the other resources when this does not limit the production of the focus product. The importance of a measure for a strategy was qualified as significant, competing or optional. This overview led to conclusions about how strategies and measures are competing or complementary and what lock-ins, no-regret measures or win-win situations can arise by choosing a certain measure. This information, together with the measures’ characteristics, enables the development of a coherent and adaptive resource recovering policy. It is concluded from this research that bioplastic and alginic acid production are competing, but that the decision between these two measures can be postponed. Cellulose recovery is also competing with these two measures, but is a no-regret measure on the short term because bioplastic and alginic acid production are still under development and will most likely not be implemented before cellulose recovery reaches its return of investment. Furthermore, the three considered phosphorus recovering methods all have their own advantages and do not have significant disadvantages, so implementation of these is possible. Finally, thermal hydrolysis is a win-win situation since it increases biogas production and is probably also beneficial for alginic acid and struvite production. Thus, thermal hydrolysis is advised. Finally, it is advised, that for all measures additional research into investments and energy is done. By considering interactions among measures, combining measures into strategies with specified goals and looking at measures’ implementation horizons, lock-ins and no-regret measures can be anticipated and policy decisions can be made. Also, when the results of this study are updated and expanded as new information becomes available, opportunities can be seized and threats can be spotted early, which results in an up-to-date and coherent resource recovering policy.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Waternet, the Netherlands
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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