Italian Exhibition Group S.p.A.

Professor Willy Verstraete at Ecomondo: “Revolutionary prospects from waste water recovery”


Source: Italian Exhibition Group S.p.A.

He’s an unquestionable international authority on microbiology applied to the treatment of waste water and organic waste. Willy Verstraete, professor emeritus at Ghent University (Belgium), he has countless publications, among those most cited in his area of study, to his name.

Heading the Flemish Science Council (FWO) as of this year, a Belgian institution to support the government’s science and innovation policy, the eminent scientist will be a guest at the next edition of Ecomondo (8–11 November, at Rimini Fiera), where on 9 November he will give a talk titled From ‘waste’ to ‘used’ water treatment plants: towards resource recovery facilities as part of conference Water management within the circular economy. Resource recovery from the water cycle: market, value chains and new perspective for the water utilities and chemical industry. This conference is organised by the University of Verona, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Utilitalia (Italian Association of Public Utility and Environmental Services), Irsa-Cnr (Italian Water Research Institute - National Research Council), Horizon2020 SMART-Plant Consortium, International Water Association Resource Recovery Cluster, IWA Italia, EU WssTP and the ECOMONDO CTS (Technical-Scientific Committee).

Professor Willy Verstraete defines his own theses and proposals as “revolutionary”, since the studies and techniques that he has been following for decades call for a radical change with respect to current waste water treatment systems. Studies and techniques that assert the possibility of achieving high-quality protein production through the biosynthesis of hydrogen, CO₂ and ammoniacal nitrogen. But that’s not all. The results of his research lead to the assertion that it is possible to convert the organic pollutants from industrial waste water into reusable biogas.

“The resources recovery industry is based entirely on making the economy more cyclical, or on producing less waste in industry and society and thus being more efficient,” argues the professor emeritus. “This means that, in Europe and Italy, we need to ‘revolutionise’ both the way we do industry in the agricultural sector and in the production of consumer goods, in order not to produce waste to release into the air, the water or landfills.”

“In my talk at Global Water Expo,” states professor Verstraete ahead of the event, “I will address in particular companies that produce products linked to agriculture and all those industrial concerns that use and dispose of water. That means all industries on the front line with respect to the progress made in resource recovery. Business opportunities for companies are foreseen in the area of general process planning , production of consumer goods (in particular feed and foods), packaging, waste and water treatment, advertising and marketing for new trends and concepts.”

The Horizon2020 “Smart-Plant” project, for which professor Verstrate is an advisor, will also be presented at Global Water Expo. “This,” he explains, “is a project focusing on adapting existing water treatment systems, through smart technology directed towards the consumer, which is addressed to industries – all with a minimal carbon footprint – that develop recovery products, such as reusable water, fertilisers, polymers for making plastic biodegradable and feed.”

The Horizon2020 “SMART-Plant” project, coordinated by prof. Francesco Fatone of ECOMONDO’s scientific committee, will be presented – again at Global Water Expo – with its 25 European partners. The Italian-coordinated project aims to demonstrate, in real systems, how municipal purifiers can be supplemented for resource recovery.

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