From wastewater to sustainable development
VTT created a research professorship in environmental protection
technology in the mid-1970s. The research was focused on the
prevention of the contamination of waterways. VTT studied, for
example, the environmental effects of wood treatment plants and
developed methods that could speed up the analysis of wastewater.
VTT also examined the waste produced by communities, hazardous waste
in particular, and their processing; studied the composition of
industrial flue gases and how they could be limited; and researched
the biological purification of industrial waters. In the 1980s,
VTT’s investigations included the environmental effects of domestic
fuel production and use.
Next to the digitalisation of information, sustainable development
is the other megatrend strongly steering VTT’s operations.
Environmental technology is no longer seen as a separate field of
research; the perspective of sustainable development is taken into
consideration in all research, development and innovation
Curbing the climate change
Curbing the climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions is of a critical
importance to sustainable development. According to studies by VTT, Finland is
capable of reaching the set emission goals, but this would require, for example,
renewing the entire energy system by 2050 and the development and implementation
of new technology in energy production and other fields. In addition to direct
reductions of emissions and waste, the overall energy and resource efficiency of
production, products and their use are important, as they have an indirect
effect on emissions. VTT’s central research subjects include low-carbon energy
technologies, lean production and eco-efficient environment.
Water technology and use of wastewater for energy
The most important current trends in water technology are the use of wastewater
for energy and the energy efficiency of wastewater treatment. VTT is researching
the use of wastewater also as part of a biorefinery producing renewable
materials and energy.
In order to gather Finnish water know-how together, in 2010 VTT and Kemira Plc
founded a shared water research centre in Finland. VTT and Kemira opened a
shared research centre also in São Paolo.
Refining industrial waste materials
The Ecomining concept developed by VTT for refining industrial waste materials
offers a new, environmentally friendly handling concept for waste streams with
metal content. Bioleaching is used to recover exploitable metals from the metal
waste and direct them to be recycled. This treatment suits, for example, sludge
from the metal industry, dusts and slags, various ashes and slags from
combustion processes, and tailings and waste rock from mines.
VTT has created an Internet application called Ecopass for measuring the
eco-efficiency of your holiday home. The indicators are: energy consumption,
share of renewable energy, carbon footprint of the constructions, waste sorting
and recycling, water supply and sewerage, and location and accessibility. Ecopass
has been used to assess the eco-efficiency of, for example, the fair houses at
the Mäntyharju Holiday Housing Fair. The Village Pass has been produced for
assessing the eco-efficiency of entire holiday villages. It takes into
consideration the location and transportation of the holiday village, the area’s
infrastructure, natural state, the services in the area and energy. VTT is
developing energy efficiency solutions for new and existing areas in cooperation
with cities and parties in the field of construction.