POWERSTEP: Energy from Wastewater

The municipal wastewater in Europe contains a potential chemical energy of 87,500 GWh per year in its organic fraction, which is equivalent to the output of 12 large power stations. However, the individual process steps of current wastewater treatment in Europe require energy to the equivalent of more than 2 large-scale power stations. Many operators are thus targeting incremental energy efficiency towards energy neutrality, but recent studies have shown that with novel process schemes using existing technologies, sewage treatment plants could actually become a new source of renewable energy, without compromising the treatment performance.

The project POWERSTEP aims at demonstrating such innovative concepts in first full scale references for each essential process step in order to design energy positive wastewater treatment plants with currently available technologies.

The following processes will be demonstrated in 6 full-scale case studies located in 4 European countries:

  1. Enhanced carbon extraction (pre-filtration or bio-sorption)

  2. Innovative nitrogen removal processes (advanced control, main-stream deammonification, duckweed reactor)

  3. Power-to-gas (biogas upgrade) with smart grid approach

  4. Heat-to-power concepts (thermoelectric recovery in CHP unit, steam rankine cycle, heat storage concepts)

  5. Innovative process water treatment (nitritation, membrane ammonia stripping).

The individual technology assessments will merge into integrative activities such as treatment scheme modelling and design, global energy and heat management, carbon footprinting, integrated design options, as well as extensive dissemination activities.

POWERSTEP will demonstrate and realise novel concepts and design treatment schemes for wastewater treatment plants that will be net energy producers.

POWERSTEP was finished in summer 2018.

Project partners

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