Dutch Water Board Aa & Maas starts innovative pharmaceutical residue removal research with Nijhuis Industries

Water board ‘Aa & Maas’ is currently conducting pilot research, together with Nijhuis Industries, to investigate whether the removal rate of more than 80% of pharmaceutical residues from municipal wastewater is feasible. The research has a highly scientific nature, to validate which ‘fourth treatment stage’ technology is able to remove pharmaceutical residues and can be applied at a full-scale capacity.

Currently, several municipal treatment plants in the Netherlands rely on pre-treatment, biological treatment and polishing steps for additional nutrient removal. The ‘fourth treatment stage’ has to ensure that more than 80% of the pharmaceutical residues and other micro pollutants will be removed, improving the ecological environment. Around 140,000 kilos of pharmaceutical residues are discharged into the Dutch surface water every year.

Official opening of the pilot at municipal wastewater treatment plant Aarle-Rixtel

On Monday 17 December, Dutch Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen gave the official go-ahead for the pilot research at the municipal wastewater treatment plant Aarle-Rixtel, the Netherlands. "The pilot symbolizes the pragmatic and result-oriented way of working of the Dutch water sector," said the minister. According to a hotspot analysis carried out by the water boards in 2017, Aarle-Rixtel is one of the ten WWTPs in the Netherlands which have a major impact on the quality of surface water.

Since the beginning of September 2018, a modular Nijhuis Industries Ozone solution has been treating a side-stream of the municipal water after their final treatment step. Installed in a 20” container, the treatment unit contains all the required measurement equipment to determine the optimal ozone concentration. The dosing of the ozone is based on the actual pollution load in order to remove the pharmaceutical residues, and avoids overdosing.

The solution is consisting of three reaction tanks to dose the ozone, an oxygen generator, a highly efficient Nijhuis Ozone Generator, and as a final treatment step a biological system, based on Nijhuis BIOCTOR-MBBR technology, for the removal of the decomposed pharmaceutical residues.

Project background

Since the beginning of the century, Dutch water boards started to focus more and more on the environmental effects of micropollutants in surface water from the effluent of municipal treatment plants. In the past couple of years, attention has shifted to the effects of pharmaceutical residues in the effluent of municipal treatment plants.

After years of study, pilot projects are now being completed. The application of the best ‘fourth stage’ technology is strongly depending on for example the efficiency in relation to the ecological environment, local conditions, and water quality aspects. According to the micro-contaminants knowledge centre NRW (based in Germany), and extensive laboratory testing at the water board Aa & Maas, ozone technology has proved itself to be one of the three successful treatment technologies to remove more than 80% of pharmaceutical residues.

About Aa & Maas
For 24 hours each day, water board Aa & Maas is working with water to serve almost 744.000 inhabitants and companies in ‘Oost-Brabant’, a region in the South-East of the Netherlands. Their highest priority is safety, health and well-being. Moreover, they stand for innovative and sustainable water management, ensuring both current and future generations will have the advantage of their ambitious and forward thinking management. Based on this mission, Aa & Maas have committed to develop the best possible solution to remove pharmaceutical residues for their municipal treatment plants, and all other Dutch water boards.

About Nijhuis Industries
Nijhuis Industries delivers solid solutions for sustainable water use & resource recovery, with the highest level of intelligent innovations across a wide range of industries. We meet today’s challenges as well as those of the future, as a response towards a CIRCULAR economy in a ‘fluid’ world. To accommodate the customer requirements, Nijhuis offers customized installations, to create profit out of (waste)water, process water and waste.