International collaboration to make used water treatment energy neutral


International collaboration to make used water treatment energy neutral

Increasing energy production while decreasing energy demand: this vision will soon become reality for used water treatment plants retrofitted with a novel concept developed by Singapore researchers in cooperation with international collaborators from Denmark and France. Hitting the spot in times of global warming, rising energy prices and increased urbanisation, the revamped plants shall not only become energy self-sufficient, but even generate excess energy.

With support from Singapore's Environment and Water Industry Programme Office (EWI), the new, so-called Energy+-concept is currently being demonstrated at a pilot-scale plant in Kranji Water Reclamation Plant. On July 4, the international partners of the project will sign a Research Collaboration Agreement formalising the alliance at the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) 2012, the global platform for the sharing and co-creation of water solutions.

 "With new and stricter international requirements on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the water sector has put energy efficiency high on the agenda", explains Martin Andersen, Head of the Environmental Technology Department at DHI Singapore and Principal Investigator for the project. "There is an enormous market in minimising energy consumption of existing plants and making them, at least, energy neutral."

In the Energy+-concept, the problem is targeted from two sides: on the one hand reducing energy consumption, on the other hand increasing energy production.

Professor Ng Wun Jern from NTU's AEBC-NEWRI further elaborates: "We are examining the bioprocesses for opportunities to reduce energy consumption. A key approach involves process manipulations, which allow for shortcut nitrogen removal.  This - coupled with a novel biological carbon accumulation process - allows the energy intensive conventional activated sludge process to be substantially improved."

SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT will lead the studies on anaerobic digestion to optimise the process with regards to a maximum production of biogas. "Used water should not be considered as a waste, but also as source of energy. Indeed, thanks to controlled anaerobic digestion, energy can be recovered from used water in the form of biogas. This can then be transformed into energy (heat and electricity) to supply the used water treatment plant on its way to energy self-sufficiency", says Pascal Dauthuille, waste water and environment research division manager of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT and Co-Principal Investigator of the project.

Today, a typical water reclamation plant in Singapore consumes approximately 0.5 kWh of electricity for each cubic metre of used water treated. With PUB collecting and treating about 558 million cubic metres of used water each year, the potential energy savings in Singapore alone are highly significant.

"Used water treatment is an energy-intensive process. With rising energy costs, Singapore will continue to look into cost-effective and efficient processes to reduce energy consumption. Our long term goal is to achieve energy self-sufficiency in the future. The successful development of this project would enable us to recover energy from the used water treatment processes, thereby reducing our dependence on traditional energy sources", says Harry Seah, Chief Technology Officer of national water agency PUB and Director of Technology Development of EWI.

The signing ceremony will take place in the heart of the SIWW's Water Expo at Booth no. 32 (SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT) on Wednesday 4th July at 12.30 pm. Join us to learn more about our fruitful collaboration and Energy+.

For more information please contact Principal Investigator Mr Martin Andersen, DHI Singapore:, ph: +65 9224 6283.

About DHI

DHI is an independent, international consulting and research organisation. Our objectives are to advance technological development and competence within the fields of water, environment and health. Headquartered in Denmark, DHI has established its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore with a local staff strength having now reached 220. DHI has partnered with Nanyang Technological University to form the  DHI-NTU Water & Environment Research Centre and Education Hub (DHI-NTU Centre), established in 2007 with the support from EWI.


About Nanyang Technological University's Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre - Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NTU's AEBC-NEWRI)

Officially launched on 10 May 2010, AEBC is NEWRI's youngest centre of excellence supported by EWI/EDB. It fosters a platform which merges strong capabilities in environmental biology and biotechnology with technology based bioprocess expertise. AEBC aims to address national and global issues relating to increased demand for fresh water, more effective wastewater, waste and water resource management, and relieving ecosystem stress. A key objective is to fill the knowledge disconnects that exist between bioscience and engineered biosystems, resulting in better translation of academic knowledge into industry applications.



Natural resources are not infinite. Each day, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT (Paris: SEV, Brussels: SEVB) and its

subsidiaries deal with the challenge of protecting resources by providing innovative solutions to industry and to

millions of people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT supplies drinking water to 91 million people, provides wastewater

treatment services for 63 million people and collects the waste produced by 57 million people. SUEZ

ENVIRONNEMENT has 80,410 employees and, with its presence on five continents, is a world leader exclusively

dedicated to water and waste management services. In 2011, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, a subsidiary owned 35.7% by GDF SUEZ, achieved revenues of EUR14.8 billion.


About Environment and Water Industry Programme Office

The Environment & Water Industry Programme Office (EWI) was set up in May 2006 to spearhead the development of the environment and water industry. Led by PUB and working with partner agencies such as EDB Singapore, IE Singapore and SPRING Singapore, EWI adopts a three-pronged strategy with technology as a key pillar. Our vision is to grow value-added (VA) contribution from the water sector from $0.5 billion (0.3% of GDP) in 2003 to $1.7 billion (0.6% of GDP) by 2015.