Aquatech Amsterdam in the lead on innovative water treatment
For four days, Aquatech Amsterdam 2023 again showed the world state-of-the-art water treatment technology. The previous event in 2019 had been affected by visitors’ and exhibitors’ travelling restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, everyone was present again. The dominant topics included the removal of PFAS, the quaternary treatment of municipal wastewater, the carbon footprint and new ways to reuse water. Here is our wrap up.
Water professionals from all over the world could fully immerse themselves in the new technologies displayed at Aquatech Amsterdam 2023 that took place from 6 to 9 November in Amsterdam. Some 24,000 visitors attended the trade fair where over 800 exhibitors showed their latest products and experts talked about the latest sector trends at four different locations. The concern over PFAS in drinking water dominated the conversation. The main question was how extremely low concentrations of a very persistent and mobile substance can be removed from large volumes of water?
Another current topic was the renewal of the European Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive that will make the removal of micropollutants from sewage water mandatory for all large treatment plants in Europa by 2045. What is the best additional technology keeping in mind that the Directive also requires carbon neutrality?
Unveiling new technologies
The solutions shown and discussed at Aquatech Amsterdam 2023 revealed the important role for reverse osmosis. Many exhibitors showed their upgraded modules with higher recovery rates, less scaling, longer lifetimes, greater energy efficiency and smaller footprints. Sensors to optimise the treatment process are becoming increasingly important in removing the low concentrations of pollutants in order to meet stricter standards for drinking water and water discharge. Most of the new components that were shown at Aquatech are digitalised so their data can feed the automated process control.
For PFAS, removal is not enough. The ‘forever chemical’ must also be destroyed. While critical water oxidation was presented as a serious option, it is very inefficient in treating large volumes of water. Experts talked about first concentrating PFAS in smaller streams. This would make plasma and chemical oxidation more feasible.
Aquatech Amsterdam gives the Dutch water technology sector a great opportunity to showcase its new solutions to the global water market. The Dutch sector is dominated by small SMEs and many exhibited their latest innovations in and around the large Netherlands Pavilion. This ranged from the robotic inspection of water infrastructures, a new sieve technology to recover cellulose from sewage water, and advanced monitoring of water use in buildings, to more advanced activated carbons. The high concentration of new technologies at the Netherlands Pavilion created a big buzz throughout the event.
Some more established Dutch companies had their own booths, such as LG Sonic (algae control), Nijhuis Saur Industries (OEM), XFlow/Pentair (UF membranes) and NX Filtration (nanomembranes). Several announcements were made, including a takeover by Nijhuis Saur Industries of CirTec (fine sieves) and Natural Systems Utilities (water reuse). Both NX Filtration and Nijhuis Saur Industries launched an initiative to utilise mobile nanofiltration systems as a solution to address water scarcity and close the water cycle.
The one-day Aquatech Innovation Forum conference saw the world’s leaders in the water industry gather together. The forum dived into the risks associated with new technologies. How can we make water utilities more agile? If water utilities refuse to talk openly about PFAS, how can water technology suppliers come up with solutions?
Venture partner Wayne Byrne of Burnt Island Ventures attended a session on new technologies to remove PFAS. "Utilities see innovators as a risk and hard to work with,” Byrne said. He understands the pro-risk attitude as utilities have the responsibility to supply clean and healthy water. “Utilities see innovators as a risk and hard to work with,” Byrne said. He understands their position as utilities have the responsibility to supply clean and healthy water. “It is understandable that they are keen to avoid a ‘trap’ that only generates a small energy saving. But that said, we are at a confluence of events and innovations have never been as badly needed as now,” he remarked at the forum. Byrne noted that water scarcity and increasing water pollution is forcing the water sector to innovate. Risk avoidance is no longer an option. “The emerging circumstances will drive a new adoption strategy whether utilities like it or not.”
Unprecedented water challenge
Dutch Water Envoy Meike van Ginneken addressed these new emerging circumstance in her speech during the official opening of the trade fair. “Climate change means that we are facing an uncertain future. The world’s resources are under threat and the global water challenge is unprecedented,” said Van Ginneken. Trade fairs such as Aquatech Amsterdam are important to showcase new, more efficient technologies. “New irrigation techniques have allowed us to grow more crops with less water,” she remarked. “However, to meet the challenges ahead, we need improved technologies to purify, conserve, and distribute water. We have the know-how. So, let us join forces and bring them to every region and community around the world. From now on, it is action, action, action.”
The next Aquatech Amsterdam will be in March 2025.