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Wastewater smells foul and is full of pathogens. For these reasons it is usually removed and disposed of quickly. The out-of-sight-out-of-mind strategy is, however, costly and opportunities are lost. At Eawag's Info Day, experts in practice come together with researchers who are seeking new answers – for example, on how nutrients or heat can be recovered from wastewater.
Switzerland is rightly proud of its wastewater treatment strategy. It guarantees hygiene in communities, protects water as a resource (eg. for drinking water) and successfully prevents over-fertilisation of rivers and lakes. But this comes at a price: the replacement value of the Swiss wastewater infrastructure amounts to more than 120 billion francs. New challenges, for example the removal of micropollutants or climate change, will not make the system less costly. In addition, it is becoming ever clearer that wastewater is not simply a hazard to be removed, but it also embodies resources such as heat or nutrients that it would be more sensible to recycle instead of literally flushing them away.
Materials - Limits - Recycling - Topic - Discussion
How these materials can best be recovered, as well as the limits of this recycling, is the topic of discussion today at the Eawag Info Day in Dübendorf among nearly 200 experts from scientific fields, administration, policy and practice. They are focusing on the topic "Wastewater as a resource" and will be exchanging knowledge about future-oriented technologies for the recovery of valuable resources from the unpleasant brown brew.
Take energy, for example: there is a great deal of energy in wastewater that was previously absorbed in the water for hot showers or washing. In new buildings today, this is the major source of energy leakage. In both decentralised situations, before it leaves the building, and centralised – for example in a main collecting channel – such energy can be partially recovered. The fact that...
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