The heart of our project is our 6 case studies located at wastewater treatment plants

Christian Loderer, KWB


What’s the challenge?
Today, making waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) energy-efficient typically addresses only marginal improvements like more efficient aggregates (aerators and pumps) or digester operations. The realisation of an energy-positive WWTP requires a combination of new concepts for wastewater treatment together with an optimised integration of existing technologies in all side aspects.

POWERSTEP uses concepts and technologies that have been tested in laboratories and pilot scale plants. Their full-scale commercial references with a reliable assessment of process efficiencies under realistic conditions remain at stake. POWERSTEP aims to demonstrate their viability to ensure a successful market deployment of the new technology.

A set of strategic objectives

  • Demonstrate the concept of energy-producing WWTPs based upon full-scale investigations of individual processes and design elements
  • Assess energy balances and operation costs and the dependence on factors such as wastewater constitution, treatment quality target, and more.
  • Define potential design schemes of cost-competitive energy positive and carbon neutral WWTPs.
  • Ensure confidence in the design and operation of the overall treatment schemes to enable replication of solutions and rapid deployment.
  • Guarantee a significant contribution from the water sector to the green-energy sector, while securing worldwide market shares and job growth in Europe

POWERSTEP leads to energy-positive WWTPs
Through our workpackages, there are distinct but interconnected steps to make energy-positive WWTPs:


Energy-positive WWTP
POWERSTEP demonstrates the concept of energy-positive wastewater treatment plant

#01 Carbon extraction for energy recovery into biogas (WP 1)
Producing more biogas via sludge digestion is the key to obtain energy-neutral or energy-producing WWTPs. This is achieved with a more efficient primary treatment to remove as much primary sludge as possible from the system prior to the biological treatment.
Check out our case studies for more information:

#02 Nitrogen removal in the main stream (WP2)
Nitrogen removal is a challenge with the conventional process of nitrification and denitrification, given the dependence of de-nitrifying bacteria on an easily accessible source of carbon. POWERSTEP will help to overcome this barrier and guarantee extensive nitrogen removal with new technologies and control concepts.

Check out our case study for more information:

#03 Biogas valorisation and efficient energy management (WP3)
A key step for municipalities is the efficient conversion of the energy potential of biogas into usable and marketable forms of energy. This will lead directly to a better overall energy recovery for future WWTPs.
Check out our case studies for more information:

#04 Nitrogen management in side stream (WP4)
Treatment of ammonia in sludge dewatering effluent will save on aeration demand and will offer the opportunity to recover the nitrogen in form of a fertilizer product.

Check out our case studies for more information:

#05 Integration towards full plant concept, assessement and market replication (WP5)
Building upon the results and evalutation of technologies in WP1-4, integrated concepts for energy-positive WWTPs will be developed and assessed in WP5, both with holistic tools using a life-cycle perspective and also using energy becnhmarking software with practical relevance.

#06 Dissemination and valorization (WP6)
Targeted communication and brokerage of the project results will help to maximise the visibility and impact of POWERSTEP in the water sector and also within municipalities. Activities will also address the wider public and policy makers to raise awareness of the potentials of wastewater as a source of renewable energy.

#07 Management and exploitation (WP7)
Progress and sound management will be ensured by using proven and sound technical and financial management tools based on the organisational struture and the agreed Description of Work.