Posted on 12 January 2015
Consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV has joined forces with Dutch water supply company Vitens to help other drinking water companies around the world recover humic acid, an organic fertiliser.
Vitens developed the HumVi technology to produce pure humic acid during the drinking water blanching proces. Humic acid is often discharged currently as a waste product. Vitens' HumVi technology allows the humic acid to be reclaimed sustainably in its pure form, providing an organic soil improver.
Royal HaskoningDHV will be marketing this new Dutch water treatment technology on a global scale.
First operational plant
At its drinking water plant Spannenburg, Vitens applies an innovative combination of unique technologies - ion exchange and various existing membrane technologies – to blanch drinking water.
This process creates a residual stream of water and salt (top photo left) as well as humic acid (top photo right), a highly valuable organic substance from peaty soil which gives water a yellowish hue.
Water and salt are completely reused during the production process while the humic acid, once regarded as a waste product, can now be utilised as a soil improver in the agricultural sector.
Ms Esther Bosman said: "Royal HaskoningDHV and Vitens are two very different players in the water market. We both have our own interests and yet we are able to join forces. We now have a unique Dutch innovation at our disposal which will present a solution to global challenges. Together, we will be able to make a difference and contribute to the circular economy."
|Lieve Declercq (left), chair of the Vitens Executive Board and Esther Bosman (right), Royal HaskoningDHV’s Director Water Technology, signed a partnership agreement on 8 January 2015.|
Win-win for farmers and water supply companies
Ms Lieve Declercq said: "Thanks to the sustainable usage of humic acid, we are able to reduce the use of artificial fertiliser and phosphates in agriculture and horticulture. This will improve the ground water used to produce drinking water, and the growth of crops, as well as being better for the environment. In short: a win-win situation for farmers and water supply companies. I am happy that, thanks to Royal HaskoningDHV, we are now able to share this knowledge with other water companies around the world."
Ms Esther Bosman emphasised the international opportunities for this innovation: "Royal HaskoningDHV has identified a market potential for this sustainable chain technology. Take Spannenburg for example. An average of 25 million cubic metres of water is pumped up here every year, incorporating enough humic acid to serve all of Dutch agriculture and more. And we have identified opportunities in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and Scandinavia as well. There is also a financial advantage as a residual substance costing money is being replaced by a valuable product."
Humic acid occurs in coal and lignite as well as in peat. In Europe many water supply companies use a chemical process on lignite to extract the acid. This process has an adverse effect on the environment, and is also expensive because of transport
The new Vitens'HumVi technology will help water supply companies recover humic acid from their own water, while also reclaiming a sustainable and local product - easily and without any chemical effect on the environment.
Humic acid can not only be used as a soil improver but may also contribute to healthier livestock farming, thanks to a more efficient use of fodder and the reduction of antibiotics. For example, studies have demonstrated that piglets will remain healthier and their growth improved when humic acid is added to their fodder.
Vitens is the largest water supply company in the Netherlands. With 1,700 employees, 100 production plants and a mains network of 47,500 kilometres, it delivers 350 million m3 of water per year to 5.4 million people.
The annual turnover is 450 million euro. The shares in Vitens are 100% held by local and regional governments. The drinking water price per litre is 0.0015 euro.
About Royal Haskoning DHV
Royal HaskoningDHV is an international engineering consultancy with roots established in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
It is specialised in aviation, buildings, industry, energy and mining, infrastructure, maritime and waterways, planning and strategy, rivers, deltas and coasts, transport and asset management, and water technology.
Royal HaskoningDHV has 7,000 employees, providing services to public and private clients from 100 offices in 35 countries.
This news item was originally published on the website of Royal HaskoningDHV.
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● IWW/Aquatech: Vitens wins Aquatech Innovation Award 2013 with recovery process, 4 November 2013
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