Towards a water-wise world Annual report 2014

Knowledge questions about energy in the water cycle 

“Water and energy are increasingly entwined”

15 September 2014Research

During 2014, KWR has been conducting various research projects dealing with water and energy. The central question is always: What are the possibilities of saving, recovering and generating energy in the water cycle? KWR wants to satisfy the knowledge needs in the energy-water interface and, working with partners, develop new technologies. As Ad van Wijk puts it, “water and energy are increasingly entwined.”

““There are still many gains to be made after the meter””

KWR researcher Martin Bloemendal is involved in many of the institute’s energy and water projects. “In 2014, together with Dutch and European partners, we developed a map of Europe which integrates climatic and ground conditions,” he says. “The map shows you the most propitious locations for the installation of aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) systems. In addition, we’re participating in a TU Delft project that’s studying how the ground in urban areas can be optimised for the storage and use of subsurface thermal energy. We’re also studying how to deal with the problem of clogging in geothermal wells. And in Groningen we participated in a European research project focusing on the recovery of thermal energy from a milk plant’s wastewater, with a view to using the residual heat to warm the local swimming pool. It’s a wide palette of projects!”

Closing loops

“If we want to save energy, we also have to save water – and vice versa.” That’s what Ad van Wijk, professor of Future Energy Systems at TU Delft and advisor at KWR, says. Van Wijk cites numerous examples. “Sewage water treatment can manage with a lot less water. Then you can make artificial fertiliser out of urine, and thus do away with the need to use gas. By using reverse osmosis installations, powered by solar energy, you can make drinking water from rainwater. And we can warm our homes by using water from the subsurface. If we want to achieve a circular economy we will need to close the water and energy loops.”

Measuring temperature in an outdoor pipe.

Measuring temperature in an outdoor pipe.

The gains located “after the meter”

Both the water sector and the energy sector face challenges in making the sustainability transition. Van Wijk thinks that the gains to be made are mostly located “after the meter”. That’s where a lot of waste is taking place. “We have to try to interact more with customers so that they behave in a more sustainable manner. But the solutions are also technical in nature. And KWR can play a key role in the research that needs to be done. By harnessing the knowledge of the water cycle contained within KWR, many of the necessary players can be brought together.”

The Green Village

Van Wijk also sees that KWR’s specific water knowledge plays a useful role in his own Green Village project. The project is a living environment on TU Delft’s campus where students, scientists and companies can get together. It’s a place where new technologies in the fields of energy, water, waste and air are tested, demonstrated and further developed. KWR is responsible for setting up an innovative infrastructure for drinking water and wastewater. The first house in the Green Village is being built in September 2014.

Heat exchanger recovering residual heat from a milk plant.

Heat exchanger recovering residual heat from a milk plant.

Savings in our own building

When asked about the highlights of 2014, Bloemendal includes KWR’s own sustainable building, which opened in 2015. “We opted for proven concepts: techniques that have a successful operational track record. We ourselves first ran tests to see whether an ATES system would produce good results. And this was indeed the case. Together with a number of other techniques the ATES system enables us to reduces our energy use significantly, in theory up to 65%. We put a lot of effort in operational and monitoring aspects to actually meet this full potential.

© 2018 KWR Watercycle Research Institute

See all tags
Research programme
Also see
Artist impression van het nieuwe ziekenhuis Tergooi (Wiegerinck architectuur stedenbouw 08 October 2014 Helping Tergooi hospital realise its sustainability ambitions 19 May 2014 Using heat and cold from drinking water and sewers
Something completely different
27 December 2014 Next Generation Sequencing to monitor drinking water quality Wetenschappelijke Advies Raad 16 May 2014 Scientific Advisory Board
Scientific publications
Energy in the urban water cycle: Actions to reduce the total expenditure of fossil fuels with emphasis on heat reclamation from urban water

How to achieve optimal and sustainable use of the subsurface for Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage