Converting Wastewater in Composites

The Netherlands aims for a circular society in 2050. In a circular society waste streams should be recycled and upcycled as efficient as possible. Two main waste streams from a wastewater treatment plants are cellulose fibres and a class of biopolymers abbreviated as ALE. These streams are currently digested or incinerated. ALE and cellulose can however be used to construct a lightweight biocomposite material, which can be applied in the transport- or building sector. The aim of the WASCOM project is to construct a high-value demonstration product from lightweight composite material made from ALE and cellulose fibres.

The WASCOM project aims to construct a high-value demonstration product from lightweight biocomposite material from ALE and cellulose. As such, the WASCOM project will upcycle two waste streams and save energy.

An ALE-cellulose-biocomposite saves energy compared to standard fossil based composites for two reasons. Firstly, up to 67% less primary energy is consumed in the production process of an ALE-cellulose-biocomposite compared to a composite of glass fibre and polyester. Secondly, energy is saved by using a ALE-cellulose-biocomposite as such a composite is up to 25% lighter than a traditional fossil based composites. In a transport application a lower weight translates to a lower fuel consumption and thereby energy saving.

According to laboratory scale experiments at Delft University of Technology an ALE-cellulose-composite is not only light weight but also stiff and non-flammable.

The WASCOM project is carried out by a consortium of Delft University of Technology, ChainCraft, NPSP, Waternet and the AMS Institute. Delft University of Technology is the leading expert in research on biopolymers and wastewater treatment, ChainCraft aims to identify new routes for the application of ALE, Waternet aims to commercialise its cellulose fibres stream, NPSP is expert in the production of high value light weight biocomposites and the AMS Institute aims to close waste streams on a metropolitan level to accelerate the transition to a circular society.

Project duration: January 2018 – January 2020
Project leader: Peter Mooij