Winner of the Aquatech Innovation Award 2017 announced in the presence of Prime Minister Rutte

The overall winner of the prestigious Aquatech Innovation Award 2017 was announced to an influential water sector audience, with the top spot going to a highly innovative Dutch technology that can recover toilet paper cellulose fibres at sewage treatment plants and produce a marketable cellulose product suitable for use in applications such as road construction.

“This is a very good example of resource recovery and is a perfect example of the circular economy in action,” Award jury chairman Prof. Cees Buisman, Scientific Director of Wetsus, European centre of excellence for sustainable water technology, commented.

A record number of entries
A record 78 entries were received for the award across five categories, and were narrowed down to 14 nominees by the independent expert jury for the overall prize. The winning entry, from company CirTec B.V., was then placed first in the category Waste water treatment by the jury, and secured the overall prize ahead of the winners of the other four categories.

A high profile water sector audience
The award was presented at the opening ceremony for the Amsterdam International Water Week and Aquatech Amsterdam exhibition, and featured a keynote speech by Laura Tuck, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, alongside a message from Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Rutte highlighted the challenges the world faces if it is to meet the 2030 deadline of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He pointed to the contribution made so far by the High Level Panel on Water. The road ahead, as he described it, was like trying to solve the Rubik’s Cube, and he underlined the Netherlands’ commitment both to the blue part and to solving the whole puzzle.

Environmental benefits and a usable product from the winning entry
The winning technology, named ‘Cellvation’, was developed in partnership with KNN Cellulose. The benefits cited include a reduction in energy and chemical costs for sewage treatment, along with a reduction in the amount of sludge that is produced. Cellulose is used as a technical product in applications such as road construction, offering an outlet for the marketable product derived from the Cellvation process.

“It also means you have to cut down fewer trees, and the enormous amount of energy and chemicals that are used to convert a tree into cellulose can also all be saved,” Buisman added.

Entries to the Aquatech Innovation Award are assessed against three criteria: innovation, feasibility, and sustainability.

Cellvation scored highly against all three. In terms of feasibility, Buisman noted that two full-scale plants are in operation, and that use of the final product in road building has been demonstrated.

“The whole chain has been shown, so we believe it is completely feasible,” he said. “The innovation is that they have connected all these steps together, and not only taken the cellulose out of sewage, but processed it so it can be reused.”


The overall winner and category winners of the Aquatech Innovation Award 2017:

Overall winner
Cellvation cellulose recovery, CirTec B.V.

Innovation – not yet to market
Countinuous Counterflow Adsorber water treatment, Blücher GmbH

Process control technology & Process automation
Satellite remote sensing leak detection, Utilis

Transport & storage
Picoturbine water network energy recovery, Technoturbines S.L.

Waste water treatment
Cellvation cellulose recovery, CirTec B.V.

Water treatment
Closed Circuit Reverse Osmosis treatment technology, Desalitech via Lenntech B.V.

Special mention
DaaS (Data as a Service) for Water Quality Monitoring, s::can Messtechnik GmbH