Aquafin's research strategy focuses on three main areas, dealing with the global challenges for wastewater treatment
Sustainable wastewater treatment
The most important achievement in domestic wastewater treatment is undoubtedly that people are no longer vulnerable to wastewater diseases and that water bodies are recovering to a good ecological status. However, the wastewater treatment process itself also contributes to our ecological footprint through energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and the use of resources.
Research projects addressing the minimization of greenhouse gas emissions (direct as well as indirect) and recovery of valuable resources (energy, nutrients, water) contribute to the development of future wastewater treatment concepts that minimize the ecological impact without compromising the effluent constraints.
Integrated water resources management
The contribution from Aquafin, as a wastewater utility, to obtain the good quality of surface waters, as set out by the Water Framework Directive, is crucial. In this perspective, Aquafin R&D explores a wide range of options to improve receiving water quality by a set of research projects focusing on the mitigation of the impact of the sanitation system caused by combined sewer overflow spills and WWTP effluent discharges into the water ecosystem.
Managing ageing or expanding infrastructure needs a lot of expertise. In order to bring its network up to optimal condition and maintain it at that level, Aquafin invests in developing expertise, techniques and methodologies by measurement campaigns, pilot and field research for assessing the current condition, improving and preventing it and resolving problems.
The expertise is then implemented in decision making tools. In particular, odour and corrosion protection are an important focus point in research on asset management.
A strong alliance with research partners
Team of experts
Aquafin's R&D department consists of about 25 research engineers working on projects within Aquafin's area of expertise. For this purpose, they often collaborate with national and international partners, with the close involvement of the client.
At the site of the wastewater treatment plant in Aartselaar, close to the company's headquarters, Aquafin built a research hall equipped for pilot-testing new techniques and technologies. Four technical experts are responsible for the building and the operational control of the pilot set-ups in this research hall.
In addition, full scale tests can be carried out on Aquafin's wastewater treatment plants. The diversity of treatment types and capacity is an additional strength in this respect.
Aquafin's wastewater treatment plants all have their own laboratory facilities, where technical personnel perform the basic analyses. Specific analyses and analyses as part of research are carried out by specialized laboratory technicians in our central laboratory in Aalst.
Currently we participate in the following European projects: TREATREC, R3 WATER and QUICS.