Summary: In a world of increasingly scarce resources, wastewater can provide us with heat (for our buildings) plus raw materials for fertiliser and for energy. It now makes sense to better use the good stuff in our waste water - resources that we are currently just wasting.
Why this is important: We tend to think about wastewater treatment as being an environmental and health issue. That is why we treat our sewage rather than just pump it into rivers and the sea. But in our growing circular economy, recycling the resources in our wastewater increasingly makes financial sense.
The big theme: In their 2021 update, UN Water estimated that globally nearly half of household water flows were NOT safely treated. And the data shows massive variations, with the lowest levels of treatment in Central and Southern Asia & Sub Saharan Africa. Funding this is a massive challenge, so finding alternative revenue streams can really help.
Summary of an article published in Egalite
- Company Vienna Energy is preparing to test the largest heat pump in Europe to obtain energy from domestic wastewater. According to the company, the heat pumps will extract heat from the already treated wastewater, using it to generate hot water at c. 90 degrees. The first stage of the project, due to be completed this year, will enable them to generate enough energy to heat 56,000 households. This will rise to 112,000 households by 2027, or roughly one quarter of all of the households on the current district heating grid. The total project is estimated to cost c. €70m.