INCOVER is a collaborative project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.
Taking into account the current global water scarcity and the expensive operation and maintenance cost of wastewater treatment, INCOVER concept has been designed to move wastewater treatment from being primarily a sanitation technology towards a bio-product recovery industry and a recycled water supplier. Three added-value plants treating wastewater from three case-studies (municipalities, farms and food and beverage industries) will be implemented, assessed and optimised concurrently. INCOVER plants will be implemented at demonstration scale in order to achieve Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 7-8 to ensure straightforward up scaling to 100,000 population equivalents (PE). INCOVER added-value plants will generate benefits from wastewater, recovering different resources (bioproducts, energy, reclaimed water, etc.).
The 3-years project is divided into six Work Packages (WP), during which the three INCOVER solutions will be operated, validated and demonstrated to end-users through three case studies.
Under WP1 to WP3, which will run in parallel, the construction, implementation and operation of the demonstration sites will be carried out through the three case studies. The first step of the case studies will be the microalgae/yeast process (WP1) which will produce high added value products such as bio-plastics (PHA) and organic acids. The biomass from algae/yeast plus another agro-industrial biomass will be transformed into biogas in WP2. WP3 will deal with the production of other added-value products such as fertilizers, bio-coal and water recovery will be studied in WP3.
Life-Cycle Sustainability Analysis will be undertaken in WP4, along with the development of a Decision Support System (DSS) to support municipalities in selecting the best approach to their water management from a holistic viewpoint (e.g., cost-effectiveness, competitiveness, social and ecological benefits). The market uptake and dissemination of results will be delivered in WP5, through a number of activities including innovation and dialogue workshops, forums and round tables to engage key stakeholders early, and stimulate the market uptake of the INCOVER technologies.
Standardization activities and the ETV pilot EU programme (Environmental Technology Verification) will be applied to the project.
The project coordination and management is carried out by AIMEN (WP6).
The aim of INCOVER project is to develop innovative and sustainable added-value technologies for a resource recovery-based treatment of wastewater, using smart operation monitoring and control methodologies.
The main objective is to reduce the overall operation and maintenance costs of conventional wastewater treatment by 50% and alleviate water scarcity.
INCOVER project encompasses also exploitation objectives (rapid market access of innovations, etc.) and social objectives (enhance social acceptance of nutrients and reclaimed water, enhance current European initiatives, etc.).
IOWater is involved in Work Package 5, dedicated to communication and dissemination activities, in order to boost INCOVER technologies market uptake and engage with technology end-users. Thus, IOWater is using its know-how and previous experience to promote INCOVER project and increase the visibility of the project. IOWater writes and implements a communication and dissemination strategy. This entails the production of communication materials (visual identity, leaflet, poster, etc.), the development of the website (www.incover.org ), the production of newsletters, videos, the use of social media, etc.
Moreover, IOWater will attend Europe wide conference and business-oriented events, to create awareness and engage with targeted audience, such as technology end-users (municipalities, industries, etc.) and other key stakeholders (wastewater experts, etc.).
INCOVER added-value solutions will generate the following valuable resources from wastewater:
- raw materials (bio-plastics, organic acids, etc.)
- energy (bio-methane)
- agricultural inputs (reclaimed water, fertilizer).
A Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment will be done, based on environmental, economic and social aspects. A Decision Support System will be developed based on this assessment. It will provide assistance to water authorities at choosing the optimal investments.
The main expected impacts of INCOVER solutions are:
- A reduction of energy demand (at least of 50%) of wastewater management
- A reduction of GHG emissions up to 80% using CO2 sequestration processes
- Resources recovery without increase in energy requirements
- Provision of cost-effective water reuse methodology in countries facing water scarcity
- Cost reduction of municipal and industrial wastewater management
- Increased awareness on the benefits of reused water and bio-products