What is Kaumera gum and why was it the overall winner of the Aquatech Innovation Awards?
Driving real change in water
A biological gum, IoT and Big Data platform and MPC-NanoBubble technology are among the winners of this year’s Aquatech Innovation Awards.
Showcasing water technology developments with the potential to create real change, the awards recognize world-class innovation and technologies in the global water market.
The overall winner of this year’s Aquatech Innovation Award was the Kaumera Nereda Gum, a valuable resource that can be extracted from the wastewater treatment process.
A biological raw material, the gum can retain as well as repel water, giving it great potential to be used in agriculture, as well as the paper and construction industries.
“This was by far the biggest innovative step from all of the entries received,” said jury chairman Professor Cees Buisman, Scientific Director of Wetsus, European centre of excellence for sustainable water technology.
“It’s completely new and hasn’t been done before. In an urbanizing world, it's going to have much impact to help enable a circular economy.”
Demonstrating market potential
The development of Kaumera is the result of a collaboration between multiple stakeholders: Royal HaskoningDHV, TU Delft, STOWA (Stichting Toegepast Onderzoek Waterbeheer), the Vallei en Veluwe Water Authority, the Rijn en IJssel Water Authority, Chaincraft and the Energy and Raw Materials Factory (EFGF).
The award judges were impressed that the market potential has already been demonstrated.
In the autumn of 2019, a factory will open in Zutphen that will extract Kaumera from residual water from the dairy industry. The second plant in Epe will be operational by the spring of 2020 and will extract Kaumera from municipal sewage water.
It’s estimated that a medium-sized wastewater treatment plant can produce up to 2000 tons of Kaumera each year.
“Usually with these type of resource innovations you need several tonnes of material to get clients using it – it's a chicken and egg scenario," says Buisman.
“In this case, there is a company who is taking the risk of building a plant and another taking the risk of selling the material. Together that accelerates the speed of scale-up and adoption."
Urbanization as a major trend
Category winners, as well as the overall winner of the Aquatech Innovation Award 2019, were revealed at the opening ceremony of the Amsterdam International Water Week and Aquatech Amsterdam.
“What always amazes the jury is that every two years there are so many new innovations,” added Buisman. “We are always surprised by the enormous, innovative potential of the water sector that is highlighted by these awards.”
Buisman said the jury noticed two major trends across the entries this year. The first was a rise in the number and ability for sensors to measure online parameters that were not possible before. This gives the potential for greater automation of the water sector.
The second trend was urbanization. “There is now an increasing difference between cities and the countryside because of the heat, waste and resource recovery challenges facing urban areas,” said the jury chairman.
“Water technology innovations are helping to bring solutions to the challenges of urbanization.”
Category winner list
A total of 12 innovative technologies were selected from an impressive number of entries by an expert jury.
Below is the list of category winners and the reasons cited by the jury.
Kaumera Nereda Gum, Royal HaskoningDHV
Demonstrating modern resource recovery, Kaumera is one of the potential valuable products to originate from the wastewater treatment process. What impressed the judges was an entire factory is being built – demonstrating faith in the market potential, as well as the resource. The Gum was called "high impact and very innovative" by the judges.
PROCESS CONTROL TECHNOLOGY & PROCESS AUTOMATION
GoAigua’s IoT and Big Data platform, GoAigua
This entry is very relevant, with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data currently in demand and digitization becoming a key driver for water utilities. The jury commented that the solution was not only "user-friendly" but also that the platform is unique because it can connect with many different platforms and systems.
CATEGORY WINNER: WASTEWATER TREATMENT
ABX, Aquafortus Technologies Limited
This technology is a novel solvent extraction solution that crystallizes out salts from brine while recovering the water for reuse. The jury remarked that brine treatment solutions are need around the world and that this solution is innovative due to the solvent dosing, as well as being sustainable with 90 per cent claimed less energy use.
CATEGORY WINNER: WATER SUPPLY (DRINKING WATER, CLEAN WATER, INCLUDING POINT OF USE)
(INA) Interactive MPC-NanoBubble Application, LG Sonic algae control
INA is the first nanobubble system that increases oxygen levels in lakes based on real-time data on a movable pontoon. The jury was impressed by the simplicity and low energy requirements of the MPC-NanoBubble application, calling it a “very elegant solution”. The combination with solar energy means the impact of this innovation is high, the jury remarked.
Sewtree, ATB WATER GmbH
Sewtree is a natural purification and buffering system for stormwater run-off that provides safe wastewater treatment in urban areas/large cities. By using plants to transport, filter and purify water, the system is “attractive and innovative”, the jury commented. They added that Sewtree has the potential to create high impact by making water treatment visible, offering social relevance and community value.