dws-swww-award-ceremony-760pxProfessors Bruce Rittmann and Mark van Loosdrecht (from the Netherlands) received the 2018 Stockholm Water Prize for microbiological research and innovations that have revolutionized water and wastewater treatment.

On 29 August the prize was presented to them by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, at a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall during World Water Week.

dws-swww-award-winners-opening2-350pxProfessors Rittmann and Van Loosdrecht told at the opening session that it is possible to have energy neutral waste water treatment.

Revolutionized waste water treatment
In its citation, the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee recognizes professors Rittmann (Arizona State University - left on top photo) and Van Loosdrecht (Delft University of Technology, right on top photo) for ‘pioneering and leading the development of environmental biotechnology-based processes for water and wastewater treatment. They have revolutionized treatment of water for safe drinking, and refined purification of polluted water for release or reuse - all while minimizing the energy footprint’.

Professor Kartik Chandran, member of the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee, said: ‘Professors Rittmann and Van Loosdrecht have an exceptional and repeated record of converting pressing societal and environmental challenges all the way from basic research to proven and commercially viable opportunities for municipalities, agriculture and industry around the world.’

dws-swww-award-winners-press-350pxAt the press conference after the award ceremony both professors explained to the international press the wide application of microbes in waste water treatment and their enormous potential to recover energy and valuable material. 

Two modest professors
On receiving the award, the laureates thanked their universities and the Nominating Committee, with professor Van Loosdrecht adding: ‘I would also like to thank all the PhD students who I have worked together with developing this technology – without them, not much would have come out of my hands!’

Professor Bruce Rittmann remarked that: ‘More than Mark and me, the true winner today should be Environmental Biotechnology, our powerful partnership with microorganisms. Human society needs the power of the human-microbe partnership. It can make our environment cleaner, generate truly renewable resources, and improve our health.”

Both professors emphasised that the microbes do all the work. ‘We just partner with them. We give them the food they like’, Rittmann said. The revolutionary work by award winners concerns the isolation of specific type of microbes and engineering the process that is needed to let them do the job, cleaning the waste water.

About professor Van Loosdrecht
Professor Mark van Loosdrecht’s research has led to the quite widely used Anammox and Nereda technologies for wastewater treatment. The Anammox process is a resource efficient way to remove nitrogen from wastewater. In industries it is used after anaerobic wastewater treatment while in municipal wastewater treatment it is used in combination with sludge digestion. In both cases this results in an energy producing treatment process.

About professor Rittmann
Professor Bruce Rittmann is the inventor of the membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR), a technology that Rittmann invented, uses naturally occurring microorganisms to remove contaminants such as perchlorate and tricloroethene from water, and has been commercialized.

(Top photo: SIWI, Jonas Borg)

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● Meet the Dutch water delegation in the Netherlands pavilion at Stockholm World Water Week (booth 1 )


More information
Stockholm World Water Week

Delft University of Technology
Department of Biotechnology
Delft, the Netherlands
+31 15 27 81618