Strategic Impact

To examine the strategic impact of AccelWater, we need to simultaneously consider trends in water use and reclaiming, industrial waste management, energy recovery, industrial digitization, environmental challenges and socio-economic factors.

The introduction and widespread adoption of integrated solutions for the food and beverage industry, like AccelWater, will profoundly improve the management of resources for food and beverage processing and pave the way for the development of a sustainable and more efficient production system in the food and beverage industry. AccelWater will deliver an enhanced framework under the water-waste-energy nexus for efficient industrial production of food and beverage and will empower the European food and beverage industry with an integrated technological solution. It will assist the industry to deliver safe, high-quality products, while minimizing the impact on natural resources (by reducing freshwater use and increasing the raw material use efficiency), mitigating climate change (by reducing fossil fuel based energy consumption through energy recovery) and developing alternate value streams (through waste valorization).

AccelWater proposes an approach that – if broadly adopted – will disrupt the current food and beverage industry and accelerate the adoption of industrial resources reclaiming technologies (water, energy, waste substances) by the industry in connection with smart and precise monitoring, control and future demand prediction. Current investment in reclaiming resources is only a fraction of potential investment, and many financial, practical and regulatory compliances prevent the food and beverage industry from implementing solutions on a broader scale. Under this framework, AccelWater can bring a paradigm shift to progress beyond the conventional approach in the food and beverage industry, which has limited use of reclaiming technologies.

This conventional approach does not alter the fundamental nature of the food and beverage industry as it is commonly practiced. It treats reclaiming technologies as an add-on rather than as the transformative opportunity that it inherently possesses.

AccelWater will contribute to the expected impacts as addressed by the Work Programme. The impact will be monitored and measured based on specific quantitative and/or qualitative indicators, as part of the project success monitoring plan.

Expected Impacts

Significant reduction of the current use of fresh water resources

AccelWater proposes a circular approach of water use for food and beverage production, assuming that the various types of water quality can be reused in the industry and exploring alternative water sources (reclaimed water and atmosphere) for use. For achieving this, the AccelWater project will take benefit of alternative water resources such as water in gas state in the processing lines or rain water along with wastewater treatment technologies. Moreover, with the use of smart monitoring technologies the various types of water will be monitored for assuring that the pollutant levels are in accordance to the various policies that cover the water use in the food and beverage industry. While according to the various water types produced there will be different uses. Thus, significant reduction of fresh water is achieved.

Significant steps towards near-zero discharge using closed-loop systems in industrial processes

In AccelWater demonstrators, many water reuse technologies will be developed that will help optimizing water management during the food and beverage transformation. More specifically, wastewater treatment technologies along with the use of water reclaiming technologies and an AI based decision support system will be used for optimizing not only the water use and reuse but the water effluent as well and thus helping on the achievement of near-zero discharge. These technologies will be used in combination with each other according to the specific needs of each demonstrator not only in the main production lines but in the newly developed and/or across different companies through bilateral agreements. In this way, the environmental footprint of the food and beverage companies will be lower while the cost of water use for industrial purposes will decrease as well helping them to be more competitive and sustainable.

Significant increase of the recovery of water, energy and/or substances and materials

During AccelWater project, innovative technologies will be developed for optimizing production of food and beverages. These technologies will cover various aspects of the production. Specifically, technologies for water reclaiming and reuse (use of membrane filtration, membrane bioreactor and other biological treatment, heat treatment, disinfection of treated effluents, rainwater harvesting, gas humidity condensation and UV-light treatment) will be used for increasing water recovery and also increasing the industrial water use efficiency. Moreover, among the four demonstrators there will be use of innovative technologies such as use of heat recovery systems, improved steam traps, process control, condensate return systems, absorption refrigerators, heat pumps, hot water storage tanks, heat distribution systems, thermoelectric generators, energy recovery through anaerobic digestion, and drying and thermal treatment systems for energy recovery across whole production lines for mitigating climate change effect and decrease carbon footprint. Meanwhile, during the production processes innovative waste valorization methodologies will be developed for decreasing the waste produced while helping the food and beverage companies to create new added value products from their waste and thus helping increase their profits. On top of that, smart monitoring and control systems based on innovative ICT technologies such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence and seasonal prediction on raw material offer and product demand will be used for optimizing further the production lines along with the treated effluent, the freshwater, energy and raw material use.

Increase of resource and water efficiency by 30% compared to the state-of-the-art

AccelWater will promote a holistic system for increase water and resource efficiency in food and beverage transformation. Many studies have indicated that the use of one technology can achieve limited increase of water and resource use of up to 25% in average. However, under a holistic approach this number can further increase. In AccelWater project different types of technologies will be jointly used for achieving resource and water efficiency by more than 30% compared to the current state-of-the-art. The core system of this holistic approach will be the AccelWater platform which will be based on artificial intelligence and big data analytics and will be used as an orchestrator in the production lines of each demonstrator.

Effective dissemination of major innovation outcomes to the current and next generation of employees, through the development of learning resources with flexible usability

AccelWater will collect information on barriers, best practice and demo cases from relevant reports, initiatives and projects. AccelWater will identify current challenges faced by circular economy projects and suggest recommendations and solutions to overcome legal and socio-economic barriers. It foresees interaction with Innovation Deals working on relevant topics. The project will verify that the integrated process results in reclaimed water, meeting the requirements of strict water reuse legislation, allowing water recycling practices to be implemented in food and beverage industrial areas. AccelWater will contribute to four of the EIP water priorities: ‘Water reuse and recycling,’ ‘Water and wastewater treatment, including recovery of resources’, ‘Water-waste-energy nexus’ and ‘Ecosystem services.’ Major findings will be introduced in an evidence matrix and shared through all partners, early adopter sites, and major European cities. Several ongoing political discussions and current directives are considered within AccelWater: Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe , Closing the loop – An EU action plan for Circular Economy , Water scarcity and droughts , Water Framework Directive , Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive , Drinking Water Directive , Study Supporting the Revision of the EU Drinking Water Directive . Moreover, all demonstrators include practical and perceptible interventions concerning circular economy and water/wastewater treatment; they reflect excellent demonstration sites for educational and scientific purposes. Besides 5-6 planned PhD thesis, dissemination in trade-press, trade-fairs, and conferences, AccelWater is open for scientific applicants worldwide. Students are explicitly invited to learn from AccelWater activities and to enrich the project. Finally, all this information will be available through the AccelWater Knowledge Platform and its elearning modules for training the current and next generation of employees in the food and beverage industry.

The environmental gains in absolute figures, and weighted against EU and global environmental footprints, should be demonstrated

AccelWater aims to be a paradigm shift for the environmental friendly production in the food and beverage industry by decreasing the environmental footprint under the water-waste-energy nexus. For doing this, AccelWater will produce measurable gains during project lifetime that will lead to bigger implementation from the other companies as well. Specifically, the AccelWater project will harvest more than 1000 m3 of rainwater in the industrial premises, while it will decrease the freshwater consumption by more than 10.000 m3 per demonstrator for the whole project duration. This accounts to more than 30% of the current water use. Moreover, more than 10.000 kg of waste will be utilized and more than 1 GWh of power produced through the energy recovery technologies. All the aforementioned gains will lead to a more environmental friendly production compared to the current trends in food and beverage production.

The replication potential should also be assessed

AccelWater will validate financing of circular economy activities with existing financing instruments at regional, national and European level and eventually will propose appropriate changes. Taking circular economy into account at all stages of activities, AccelWater will explore existing circular/alternative financing models (such as green funds, crowd financing, ethical banking, etc.) and eventually will create new types of such models paving the way for future circular economy activities. For early adopter sites funding options and financing plans will be established according to their specific situations resulting in a catalogue of options for other interested locations/regions. An adaptive business model will be elaborated, considering detected barriers and covering the full water-energy-food service chain, with an approach suitable for sharing economy. The business cases will cover the typical engineering design process, implementation, operation/maintenance of the solution and the commercial exploitation of secondary services generated. Several models (Build Operate Transfer (BOT) or design–build–finance–operate (DBFO) will be investigated during workshops with relevant stakeholders.