Pollution Prevention & Resource Recovery

The Pollution Prevention and Resource Recovery chair group focuses on the development of rational approaches to managing waste through maximizing waste prevention and reduction, through appropriate waste treatment as intermediate solution, and through maximizing resource recovery in both the domestic and the industrial sectors.

Pollution prevention and resource recovery is a growth market due to the rapidly increasing volumes of solid waste and waste water and tougher legislation being introduced worldwide. The main challenges lie in developing regions where there is poor coverage of appropriate, affordable and reliable systems for the adequate management of solid waste and wastewater (and sanitation systems). Considering the cost of the implementation and operation of systems developed in the industrialized countries as well as their social inappropriateness in local conditions, there is an increasing need for reorientation focussing on approaches that are more in line with the realities at the local level, i.e. reduced technological requirements, lower implementation and operational costs, more user friendly operation as well as usage focussed on process optimization, reduction of generation of solid waste and waste water and designed with resource recovery in mind.

Activities

The group contributes to the MSc programmes in Urban Water and Sanitation (UWS) and in Environmental Science (ES) as well as to MSc joint degrees (ETSuD and IMETE) with the following in-house (short) courses:

  • Environmental Process Technology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Solid Waste Management / Hazardous Waste Management
  • Industrial Resource Management and Cleaner Production

Moreover, the group is responsible for the following online courses:

  • Pollution Prevention and Resource Recovery
  • Solid waste Management,
  • Industrial Resource Management and Cleaner Production,
  • Nanotechnology for Water and Wastewater Treatment.

Lastly, the group organizes a hybrid course including a one-month online introductory phase, a two-weeks in-house (short) course, and a one-month online finalization phase.

Two flagship conferences are organized on regular basis such as the International Conference on Research Frontiers in Chalcogen Cycle Science & Technology and Conference on Algal Technologies for Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery.

The Chair Group contributes also to capacity building projects in a number of countries, including Brazil, Jordan, Ghana and Palestine.

Research focuses on four related lines:

  • Natural systems for the treatment of, and resource recovery from, domestic and industrial waste water, with an emphasis on nutrient cycles and related biological processes (wetlands, photobioreactors;…)
  • Solid organic waste management including resource recovery (turning waste into resource by converting waste into biofuel (e.g. anaerobic digestion), producing biochar for water and gas treatment, composting, and gas treatment including gas to liquid fuels,…
  • Solid hazardous waste management including resource recovery (turning waste into resource by implementing bio/hydrometallurgical processes for a selective recovery of base, precious and rare earth elements)
  • Microbiology [as part of the main lines above and in collaboration with other core groups].

Most research projects are implemented in collaboration with partner institutions in developed and developing countries. For instance, the chair group is involved into two Joint PhD programmes i) The Advanced Biological Waste-to-Energy Technologies (ABWET) European Joint Doctorate and ii) The Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate: Environmental Technology for Contaminated Solids, Soils and Sediments (ETeCoS3).

Staff members

PhD fellows