SWEET Finnish water research
The Center of Water Efficiency Excellence (SWEET) established by Kemira Oyj and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland will develop new technologies which enable more efficient water usage and recycling, as well as the creation of more environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient solutions for water-intensive industry. The research field includes for example energy- and cost-efficient production of freshwater from sea water, biofuel production of biomass generated in wastewater treatment as well as product biodegradability. One example of VTT's previous work in this field is the development of eco-efficient solutions for landfill wastewater treatment.
The Center of Water Efficiency Excellence (SWEET) recently established by Kemira Oyj and VTT brings together Finnish water expertise. Creating new and unique water expertise in Finland, the center will develop new technologies and solutions for water-intensive industries as well as for the global water shortage. The total cost of the research at the centre for the next 4 years is estimated at 120 million euros, including external funding. The center aims to create future investment activities for piloting and demonstrating purposes. There will be 200 persons working at the center annually.
Kemira is already one of the leading water chemistry companies globally with operations in 40 countries, decades of experience in water technology and wide-ranging expertise to meet a variety of water treatment needs. VTT's expertise in environmental, energy and process technologies combined with a structure and operating models which can combine technologies and expertise from different fields help create top technologies for water purification, recycling, monitoring and treatment of process waters.
VTT's focus areas in green water technologies include improvement of the technical prerequisites of water recycling, exploitation of new non-used resources for production of clean water, and increasing integration of waste and water management into the complex energy and material production chains of the society, instead of separate treatment solutions. The integration of life-cycle thinking into all the development work is an essential prerequisite of sustainability. VTT’s scientific and technological focus contains advanced on-line monitoring and process control systems ensuring efficient recovery and confidence in the quality of recycled water.
VTT has contributed to areas such as developing new solutions for landfill wastewater treatment. Together with actors in the field, VTT and the Aalto University have conducted a joint study on the quality and treatment requirement of wastewaters generated at different types of waste management and landfill sites. The project group has developed new, eco-efficient treatment and recycling techniques with which waste management sites and landfill sites can minimise effluent flows, reduce environmental emissions and local water consumption. The solutions also make the treatment more cost-efficient.
Potential techniques for the treatment of heavy metal contaminated waters include the use of biological sulphate reduction and reactive by-product materials. Biofilm technology offers a cost-effective approach to nitrogenous wastewater treatment. Cost-effectively implemented separate treatment may offer an attractive alternative to transferring wastewater from waste management sites and landfill sites to a municipal treatment plant.
The new methods are eco-efficient. The choice of biological methods is also supported by their relatively low energy and chemical consumption. Additionally, reactive waste materials and by-product materials can be used in place of commercial filter materials, especially where high volumes of filter material are needed.
In addition, a site-specifically applicable procedure for comparing water management alternatives of waste management sites and landfills was developed. The procedure enables comparison of, for example, economic efficiency of different water management options. Companies are able to utilise the research results in the evaluation of their water treatment requirements and in the comparison and selection of the most technically, economically and environmentally optimal water treatment method. Larger scale application of the research results also promotes the re-use of waste and by-product materials.
Water technology is a prime example of Finnish expertise which can help solve important global challenges. Water technology is the fastest growing industry worldwide.
Vice President, Process industry and environment
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