Water Authority Rijn en IJssel has announced the commissioning of the world’s first (industrial) NEO (Nereda? Extracted Organic) alginate factory in Zutphen. NEO alginate is a sustainable raw material that can be extracted from the sludge granules obtained by Royal HaskoningDHV’s wastewater treatment technology - Nereda?.
NEO alginate is an alternative of the polymer alginate - extracted from seeweed - and can be used in agriculture and horticulture, the paper industry, medical and construction industries.
Paul Roeleveld wastewater expert at Royal HaskoningDHV: "The current world production of alginate is 36,000 tons per year. We have demonstrated in a field test that we can produce 18 kilograms of NEO alginate from 80 kilograms Nereda? granular sludge. It is expected that an industrial NEO alginate factory like the one in Zupthen will produce about 400 tons of NEO alginate per year. This means plenty of opportunities, also for municipal Nereda? wastewater treatment plants."
Royal HaskoningDHV, Water Authority Rijn en IJssel, Water Authority Vallei en Veluwe, Delft University of Technology and Foundation for Applied Water Research STOWA have carried out years of intensive research into the extraction, production and use of NEO alginate.
NEO alginate is a durable material with a number of unique features. It can hold water but also repel it. This new material offers various exciting possibilities for agricultural and horticultural applications, in the paper and the construction industry. NEO alginate could be used as a thickening, sizing and coating agent or as a stabiliser. So far alginate is only extracted on a commercial scale from seaweed. This is a relatively expensive process. The use of alginate is therefore limited in the textile industry (as a textile ink thickening agent), food industry (thickener and stabiliser) and pharmaceutical / medical world (such as in the paste used for dental moulds, in alginate plasters and cough medicine).
Following the decision on 8 November 2016, Water Authority Rijn en IJssel has committed to investing € 11 million in the construction of a NEO alginate factory using the residual water of the Friesland Campina dairy production plants in Lochem and Borculo. In addition to producing the new, sustainable raw material NEO alginate, the factory will purify the residual water resulting in a quarter less sludge than is produced during the current process. Construction is expected to start in spring 2017. The factory will be operational early 2018.
Chair of the Water Authority Rijn en IJssel, Hein Pieper said: "The treatment of wastewater demands a substantial annual investment from Dutch water authorities. Additionally we often lose precious energy and resources with this wastewater. That is why we team up with universities, research institutions and companies to create the wastewater treatment of the future: energy neutral Energy and Raw Materials Factories that produce no waste at all. We continuously work towards a fully sustainable and circular economy."