31 Oct 2014
F.l.t.r: Mario Pronk (Delft Technical University), Cora Uijterlinde (STOWA), Andreas Giesen (Royal HaskoningDHV) en Douw Jan Tilkema (Vallei and Veluwe Water Board). © Royal HaskoningDHV
F.l.t.r: Mario Pronk (Delft Technical University), Cora Uijterlinde (STOWA), Andreas Giesen (Royal HaskoningDHV) en Douw Jan Tilkema (Vallei and Veluwe Water Board). © Royal HaskoningDHV

The Dutch National Nereda® Research Program (NNOP) has won the Muelheim Water Award 2014 for the development of the sustainable Nereda aerobic granular biomass technology for treating wastewater. Cora Uijterlinde of the Dutch Foundation for Applied Water Research STOWA received the award from Lord Mayoress of the German city of Muelheim, Mrs Dagmar Mühlenfeld, on 28 October at DBP 2014: Disinfection By-Products in drinking water conference. Royal HaskoningDHV is a founder member of NNOP and owner of the Nereda technology.

Cora Uijterlinde said: "This award is a crowning glory representing 20 years of Nereda research, development and implementation. We have proved that the golden triangle of private parties, government and knowledge institutes can make a smart water innovation, a process breakthrough and an upcoming new world standard for biological wastewater treatment."

The Nereda project is awarded with a prize of 10,000 euro. The amount will be spent on research into recovery and reuse of alginate from granular sludge. Granular sludge is created when waste water is purified with the Nereda technology. Alginate is one of three valuable raw materials that can be recovered from waste water - the other two are phosphorus and cellulose (toilet paper). This innovation brings the ideal of waste water purification as a 'raw material factory' a step closer.

Alginate has many potential and actual applications. Most of them are currently found in the medical world and the food industry. But there are also possible applications in the chemical sector, paper and textile industries, as a raw material in the agricultural sector, and in farming to improve water management in semi-arid areas.

Muelheim Water Award

The Muelheim Water Award is given to outstanding projects with applied research and implementation of innovative concepts for improvements in the water and/or wastewater industry. This year the jury has decided on 2 winning projects out of 28 applications from 13 countries. The other winning project is the Portuguese Aware-P software that contributes to structured infrastructure asset management in water companies. The Muelheim Water Award has been awarded biennially since 2006. In 2014, the award is given for the fifth and last time.

Unique Nereda public-private partnership

Working together within NNOP, the Delft University of Technology, the Dutch Foundation for Applied Water Research (STOWA), several Dutch water boards and Royal HaskoningDHV have been involved in the research and development of Nereda over a 20-year period.

STOWA and the water boards were instrumental in developing the invention from the university into an applied technology for full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plants. It moved from the laboratory to real-life application to pilot installations, and culminated in 2011 in the opening of the world's first municipal plant in the Dutch city of Epe. Since then the number of Nereda plants has risen exponentially. Nereda plants are currently treating wastewater in the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, South Africa, Brazil, the UK, Ireland, Australia and Switzerland. Nereda's key advantages include plants which are four times more compact and significantly cheaper to construct. They also have lower operating costs because the process requires significantly less energy.

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René Noppeney

Global Director Water Products & Innovation

Nijmegen, NL

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