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Systematic approaches for resource-efficient water management systems in process industries
Deadline: Jan 21, 2016  

 Entrepreneurship and SMEs
 Raw Materials
 Renewable Energy
 Waste Management
 Sustainable Development
 Water Resource Management
 Horizon Europe

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Nowadays, 12% of water utilisation in the EU is devoted to industrial use. Since water is a scarce resource, it is crucial for the European industry to change the current paradigm and develop more sustainable and efficient water technologies, which is also an important element for increasing its competitiveness, because a significant amount of energy is consumed for industrial water treatment. In the sustainable development context, efficient water use is closely linked to the efficient use and re-use of other resources, such as energy, chemicals, raw materials and soils. As such, these aspects need to be considered holistically in order to develop sustainable solutions.


The main objective is the optimisation of the use of water in industry. Research activities should focus on several of the following areas:

  • Combining existing technologies (e.g. advanced processing, nano-technology and materials) in order to achieve enhanced sustainability in water treatment processes by reducing water use, energy and raw materials consumption and at the same time minimizing waste and/or recovering valuable substances.
  • Selective separation processes in order to be able to treat specific industrial fluxes, also leading to the recovery of valuable substances.
  • Adaptation of current processes or equipment to use alternative water sources. e.g. rainwater, salt or brackish water, cooling water, or Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) effluent.
  • Alternative cooling/heating methods. Reducing the energy levels that are needed for water and steam related production processes; dry cooling technologies; water and energy recovery processes from water vapour.
  • Use of renewable energy, in order to achieve low energy water treatment processes (e.g. photo-degradation of pollutants).
  • Development of closed loop recycling and reuse, involving cascading of processes and industrial water symbiosis.
  • Development of a sustainable strategy for selecting materials and infrastructure for water transport and use, including water storage and treatment.

The proposals should also include a Life cycle analysis, since it offers the framework to deliver meaningful information on the "water footprint" of manufactured goods, delivered services, business operations and consumer behaviour. The total footprint of the process regarding water, energy and resources should be considered.

Activities are expected to focus on Technology Readiness Levels 5 to 7 and to be centred around TRL 6. This topic addresses cross-KET activities. The proposals are expected to allocate at least 30% of the budget to demonstration activities.

This topic is particularly suitable for SMEs.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:
  • Reduction of at least 20% in water use compared to the current practice in the sector.
  • Reduction of at least 30% in wastewater production compared to the current practice in the sector.
  • Reduction of at least 15% in energy use compared to the current practice in the sector.
  • Minimising the Water Footprint, employing less water intensive or waterless technologies and increasing recycling.
  • New technology developments in water treatment and wide adoption of these technologies to enhance sustainability in the process industries.
  • Decouple the industrial production from the utilisation of fresh water reserves

In order to properly monitor the Resource Efficiency Impact, Key Performance Indicators should be implemented.

Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.

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