This is a joint press release from TU Delft, Royal HaskoningDHV, Stichting Toegepast Onderzoek Waterbeheer (STOWA), Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe, Waterschap Rijn en IJssel and ChainCraft.
A sustainable alternative to chemical substances in seeds, manure grains and concrete? On 2 October 2019, water authorities, science and industry launched a new raw material from wastewater: Kaumera Nereda® gum. Kaumera is a new bio-based resource, which is extracted from aerobic granular sludge originated from the Nereda® wastewater treatment process. This sustainable biopolymer is a valuable resource and a viable alternative to a variety of oil-based materials. The first large-scale Kaumera production unit has now been officially opened (2 October 2019) in Zutphen, with the second production unit in Epe coming online in Spring 2020.
The introduction of Kaumera offers a huge step forward for resource recovery and the circular water economy. Using Kaumera as a sustainable biopolymer decreases the amount of fossil resources and first-generation biomass required. In addition, Kaumera production decreases energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the wastewater treatment process.
The launch is the result of intensive cooperation between TU DELFT, engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV, Stichting Toegepast Onderzoek Waterbeheer (STOWA), Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe, Waterschap Rijn en Ijssel, and the biotechnology company ChainCraft. Each partner has contributed a part of the knowledge and expertise for researching, developing, producing and marketing the raw material.
Less sludge waste, less CO2 emissions
By extracting Kaumera from the purified sludge, 20-35% less sludge has to be disposed of at Zutphen. This helps to reduce energy consumption by 30-80% (compared to current polymers in agricultural products) and CO2 emissions with 113 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
Every year, throughout the Netherlands, millions of litres of wastewater are produced. This water is treated by the water companies. Research has shown that there are five raw materials, which can be extracted profitably from the wastewater commercially. Kaumera is one of these and is the next raw material which can be produced and marketed on a large scale, after phosphate.
Kaumera is a versatile raw material: it can repel water but can also absorb it and it is fire retardant. It’s also suitable for coatings and use as a composite material. By combining it with other raw materials, changes can be made to the character of the fabric.
In the first instance Kaumera will be marketed for agricultural and horticultural applications, but many other applications are possible (STOWA research).
Kaumera can be used as a smart coating for seeds and manure grains, ensuring young plants can develop faster and are less vulnerable to diseases. As a coating for manure grains it ensures that the manure is distributed more evenly on the crops. When Kaumera is treated as a coating for concrete, it ensures that the concrete does not dry out during curing. This prevents tearing. Furthermore, it can act as a binder, glue agent or part of a dye. It also works well when it is combined with other raw materials, so that a composite material can be made. New applications and possibilities continue to emerge – research is on-going.
The development of Kaumera has been made possible by subsidies from the European Union (LIFE), the Empire (RVO, DEI) and the province of Gelderland, with the cooperation of Friesland Campina and the Koplopersgroep in the energy and raw materials plant.
More information: www.kaumera.com.