OMZET - Waste water treatment as energy and mineral recovery utility

LIFE10 ENV/NL/000028

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Henry VAN VELDHUIZEN
Tel: +31 650 676965
Fax: +31 55 5272704
Email: hvanveldhuizen@vallei-veluwe.nl

Project description:


Until now, the design and development of wastewater treatment plants (WTTPs) has been primarily aimed at optimising the efficiency of the treatment of wastewater, as measured by the quality of the effluent. However, recently, it has started to be recognised that municipal wastewater might be a valuable source of energy and minerals such as phosphates, thus potentially contributing to the closing of material and energy life cycles - cradle-to-cradle. To date, however, no economically viable process has been developed. The treatment of wastewater requires energy. However, the Dutch water boards have targeted a new technological approach that should make WWTPs net energy producers rather than consumers. They have demonstrated that methane production by digestion of sludge can alter the energy profile of the process. However, the economic costs involved in this process outweigh the benefits, presenting a major obstacle to its implementation. Phosphates are an essential precondition for food production. However, present rates of consumption suggest that the natural resources risk being exhausted in just 50-100 years time. Globally, 14.9 million tonnes of phosphate are yearly abstracted from natural resources. On average, 20% of this abstraction ends up - via food production and human faeces - in wastewater. An economically viable procedure to recover phosphate from wastewater, would significantly decrease the pressure on the limited natural resources.


The main objective of the OMZET project is to develop a new approach to wastewater treatment that will demonstrate net energy production, optimal recovery of phosphates and economic viability. Its main innovation will be to implement an extra de-nitrification process for the reject water coming from sludge dewatering. The beneficiary will seek to demonstrate its innovative water treatment approach - called "OMZET" - in a municipal wastewater treatment facility. It specifically aims to increase the energy self-sufficiency of the process and recover phosphate, whilst maintaining the high effluent quality. The hydrolysis of biomass will also lead to a significant reduction in sludge production and the associated costs of transporting and incinerating sludge. The combination of energy savings, phosphate recovery and the reduction of sludge requiring additional treatment offer significant overall economic advantages. The project aims to demonstrate the cost effectiveness and economic viability of the OMZET process by reducing the operational costs for wastewater treatment by 15%. The project expects to demonstrate the high replication possibilities for OMZET in both new and existing wastewater treatment plants across Europe. It will network to disseminate its results and awareness of the new process. It also hopes to contribute to the achievement of European objectives and the development of policy with regard to: waste reduction; recovery of phosphate and limiting of the exhaustion of natural resources; limiting the environmental footprint of WWTPs; reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions; and improving surface water quality, as required by the Water Framework Directive.

Expected results:

  • Increase biogas production by 60%;
  • Recover up to 80% of phosphates;
  • Reduce sludge production by 17%;
  • Reduce WWTP operational costs by 15%; and
  • Maintain high effluent - and therefore surface water – quality.



Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Waste water treatment


clean technology‚  use of waste as energy source‚  waste water treatment

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description Waterschap Vallei en Eem (WVE) is the water board responsible for water management and wastewater treatment in a region in central Netherlands covering 1 070 000 m2 and 616 000 inhabitants.
Partners STOWA, The Netherlands


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/NL/000028
Duration 01-SEP-2011 to 31-MAR -2018
Total budget 11,032,159.00 €
EU contribution 1,552,512.00 €
Project location Utrecht(Nederland)


Read more:

Brochure "Het concept voor nutriëntenterugwinning en waterzuivering in één : De Pearl technologie" (0.97 MB)
Leaflet "Van afvalwaterzuivering naar grondstoffen- en ene ...
Project web site Project's website
Video link "Energy and resources from wastewater" (4')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version