This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skodowska-Curie grant agreement No 676070


Post date: 14/08/2019 - 17:28

On the 22nd and 23rd of October 2019 the first CAPTURE conference will take place in Ghent. With this two day conference we are aiming to explore and discuss opportunities and strengths that CAPTURE can offer towards a more sustainable and circular economy. The CAPTURE projects converge in three pipelines, named ‘CO2 to product’, ‘water ‘fit for use’’ and ‘plastics to resource’.

Post date: 03/07/2019 - 12:23

A group of our fellow ESRs worked on educational outreach for primary school students in Peru as part of their outreach. Last week Marco and Larissa reported implementation of their work on IYWPC 2019 (IWA International Young Water Professional Conference) in Toronto, Canada. 

Post date: 03/07/2019 - 12:14

Approaching the third year of SuPER-W's running, the efforts of students is bearing fruit. Our fellow ESR, Marco Hartl presented his work at the 8th International Symposium for Wetland Pollutant Dynamics and Control (WETPOL) in Aarhus, Denmark. Where he had an oral presentation titled "Emerging contaminants  removal in constructed wetlands operated as bio-electrochemical systems".

Post date: 24/06/2019 - 12:37

SuPER-W fellow, Philipp Kehrein attended the IWA conference on water reuse and reclamation in Berlin. Here is what he had to say about it:

Project facts

Project (read more)

The project has started on March 1st, 2016 and will run over a period of four years. The programme offers early-stage researchers (ESRs) the opportunity to join established research teams, improve their research skills, and enhance their career prospects.

Network (read more)

Our network comprises 5 academic partner institutions and 12 non-academic partners from different European countries, including industrial partners involved in technology development, SMEs focused on consultancy/engineering, a service provider, a government agency, and professional network organisations.

Training Programme (read more)

It combines local expert training at each academic and non-academic partner organisation, a network-wide secondment scheme, internships and an intense series of network-wide training sessions, workshops and seminars.

All fellowships are granted. No more subscriptions allowed.


The aim of this study was to assess the potential environmental impacts associated with high rate algal ponds (HRAP) systems for wastewater treatment and resource recovery in small communities. To this aim, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was carried out evaluating two alternatives: i) a HRAP system for wastewater treatment where microalgal biomass is valorized for energy recovery (biogas production); ii) a HRAP system for wastewater treatment where microalgal biomass is reused for nutrients recovery (biofertilizer production). Additionally, both alternatives were compared to a typical small-sized activated sludge system. An economic assessment was also performed. The results showed that HRAP system coupled with biogas production appeared to be more environmentally friendly than HRAP system coupled with biofertilizer production in the climate change, ozone layer depletion, photochemical oxidant formation, and fossil depletion impact categories. Different climatic conditions have strongly influenced the results obtained in the eutrophication and metal depletion impact categories. In fact, the HRAP system located where warm temperatures and high solar radiation are predominant (HRAP system coupled with biofertilizer production) showed lower impact in those categories. Additionally, the characteristics (e.g. nutrients and heavy metals concentration) of microalgal biomass recovered from wastewater appeared to be crucial when assessing the potential environmental impacts in the terrestrial acidification, particulate matter formation and toxicity impact categories. In terms of costs, HRAP systems seemed to be more economically feasible when combined with biofertilizer production instead of biogas. On the whole, implementing HRAPs instead of activated sludge systems might increase sustainability and cost-effectiveness of wastewater treatment in small communities, especially if implemented in warm climate regions and coupled with biofertilizer production.


Arashiro, L. T., et al. (2018). "Life cycle assessment of high rate algal ponds for wastewater treatment and resource recovery." Science of The Total Environment 622: 1118-1130.



We are looking for a Project Leader with background or interest in environmental technologies. You take the responsibility of research projects, broaden your expertise and make it available within other R&D projects. You push boundaries by acquiring knowledge on new technologies and applying this knowledge to generate ideas for new developments. Moreover, you maintain your internal network and share expertise with colleagues. More information can be found in the vacancy.


Laura Lucio from ESF Peru (Source:

Jaén, Peru on 24 November 2017

As part of the SuPER-W program, Outreach and Dissemination Tool (ODT) projects are being developed ( One of the projects focuses on elaborating a tool and course on environmental technologies connected to wastewater treatment and resource recovery. This tool will be implemented in Peru in collaboration with Engineers without Borders – Catalunya (ESF - and the “Unidad de Gestión Educativa Local” (UGEL -  ESF has several ongoing projects in Peru led by Laura Lucio. Our SuPER-W outreach team will be working together closely with her on-site and were able to interview her in order to find out more about their activities. In addition, the project is partly funded by the Global Minds Fund (Federal Belgian Government through Ghent University).

Can you please tell us about how you came to Peru and your work for ESF Catalunya there?

I came to Peru in 2008, working for a British NGO on territorial planning and environmental issues. This gave me the opportunity to get in touch with NGOs that are active in the region like GRUFIDES ( and ESF Catalunya. In 2011 ESF posted a vacancy I applied for.
Now I am the representative of ESF Catalunya in Peru, coordinating all projects that are being developed here, hence I develop, plan and execute activities and projects on-site. We are still working closely with GRUFIDES but also with universities, municipalities etc. Our main fields of activity are human rights and environmental issues (often in connection with mining and social conflicts), renewable energies, appropriate technologies and productive processes (e.g. solar dryers and wastewater treatment for coffee, cacao production etc.). Often these projects are connected with the empowerment of women (gender issues, economic independence of women) and human rights, targeting the extractive industry areas (mostly mining), in order to reduce harm caused by extractivism. Cajamarca is such a region, where mining already started in the colonial era, and it continues today with big international mining companies that have been operating in the area for more than two decades. Besides the human rights that are negatively affected within these areas, environmental pollution is also a big concern. These result in many social conflicts. As more mining activities are planned, we are expecting even more conflicts in the future.

In your opinion, what are the major challenges that Peru is facing?

In my opinion, the main problem is the model of neoliberal extractivism. One of the main economic sectors in Peru is extraction and export of minerals and oil which doesn´t create benefits for the population but has adverse social and environmental impacts, leading to many social conflicts. At the same time, there is a big problem with governance, partly stemming from Fujimorism (Regime led by Alberto Fujimori in the 90ies, who has been pardoned last year and is out of jail). However, his party continues to exist and have the absolute majority in the congress at the moment, issuing laws along the ideology of neoliberalist capitalism, also curtailing civil rights and generally leading to huge problems in terms of governance. This is the reason why the activities of ESF here have a strong focus on human rights at this moment. The issue is also partly connected to drug trafficking, illegal mining and overall a very complicated problem. On top of it all Peru is one of the countries that is most vulnerable to climate change; e.g. Peru has the highest concentration of glaciers in the subtropical climate zone and is therefore very affected.

How is the water supply and sanitation situation in Peru?

Due to the geography of Peru only 1% of fresh water flows towards the coastal region and the rest, nearly 99%, flows to the Amazon. The coast of Peru is a desert, however, 70% of the population is concentrated there, causing a big imbalance with very few water reserves for the majority of the population. Therefore, already before the effects of climate change  appeared, the region was vulnerable in terms of water supply. This year El Niño caused many problems with flooding in which many people lost everything, causing a great chaos with trash and debris everywhere. In addition, there is many asparagus being farmed in the desert using a lot of the little water that is available. The majority is exported, e.g. all the asparagus in Spain comes from Peru. These are neoliberal, capitalist and unsustainable economic models rooted in the neoliberal government from the 1990s.

Concerning sanitation, in the region of Cajamarca 0% of the wastewater is being treated! Everything is discharged to the rivers. Just yesterday, we had a meeting with some municipalities and we were talking about this topic. The city of Cajamarca has 250,000 inhabitants and none of the wastewater is treated but goes directly to the river. River water is used for agricultural areas, e.g. corn, lettuce, big beautiful lettuce (laughs). In Jaén, coffee production is a big issue for waterways, especially in the season when the beans are washed and fermented as the wastewater flows directly into the river. This water is very acidic causing acidification of the natural water bodies. They call it the “aguas mieles”. Since the whole area is producing coffee, the amount of wastewater is huge. And in the south, there is the mining industry. The main river and water source of Cajamarca, the Rio Grande, receives wastewater from the mining operations with a minimal treatment. As the water treatment plant of Cajamarca was built in the 1980s (before the mining started), it is not properly equipped for the specific treatment requirements of the polluted water derived from the mining areas. The water contains a lot of lime; if you open the tap in Cajamarca, the water is white. A lot of people have problems with their kidneys, a lot of stomach related sicknesses, there are no studies but it is apparent that this is connected to the bad water quality.

Our SuPER-W outreach team will go to Peru in August 2018 for around 2 months to raise environmental awareness amongst schoolchildren and communities as part of the UGEL project. Can you tell us the basics of the UGEL Jaen project and your experiences/lessons learned so far?

We gained our first experience from our two ESF volunteers, Julia and Borja, who worked in the UGEL project for several weeks in 2017. One problem is that some of the schools are very far. We went to each school once a month. The UGEL team has 4-5 people and receives support from public and private entities. They are rotating through 15 schools and constantly touring the countryside. They identified more potential schools but the problem was that they were very far so they could only go 2 times to each school. The ESF volunteers helped in three schools and built two solar dehydrators for coffee and an improved kitchen. In the future, for the SuPER-W volunteers, we will select schools which are closer.

What advice can you give to the students and volunteers who come to ESF Peru, in terms of living and working there?

In terms of security, we have a protocol that we will explain when they arrive. There is also a preparation by ESF Catalunya in Barcelona before they come over. As for the general security issues, these have to be taken into account. People who are settled in Cajamarca have to be more attentive due to the mining issues, because people who are getting involved with these issues are sometimes threatened and chased. Jaen is more or less quiet. Of course, there are pickpockets stealing phones and so on but in a non-violent way. On the other hand, people are nice and peaceful. Jaen offers all services: there are many places for accommodating the volunteers.

If you could talk to the European Parliament, what would you talk about? Please tell us in a few sentences.

It’s very complicated with so many topics (laughs). The human rights, climate change, sanitation…


Within the SuPER-W programme, Dr. Tom Hennebel co-supervises two ESRs, Amelia Parao and Nina Ricci Nicomel. Although Dr. Hennebel is also a guest lecturer at Ghent University, he is primarily employed by Umicore, a leading international company in materials technology. This company, with headquarters in Belgium, produces materials for the automotive, construction, electronics industries … with a focus on recycling metals of end-of-life products. The company is stimulating the circular economy, mainly by offering an alternative for the extraction of primary raw materials and resources.
Tom Hennebel: “We are not only relying on our own experts or knowledge but we seek actively for interaction with the academic community. By giving guest lectures and co-supervising students at universities, Umicore wants to contribute to training the next generation of experts and give them an opportunity to use the tools and knowledge available within the company. It’s a win-win for both students, universities and companies. Students with a background in mining, geology, chemistry,… should have the opportunity to become an expert with a holistic view on the entire value chain and the potential to contribute to the sustainable management of  natural resources.”

Recycling, batteries and cleaner air

Primary resources are becoming a scarcity. Therefore, Umicore focuses on urban mining and recycling metals by collecting end-of-life products like cell phones, notebooks, tablet,… and extracting the metals and useful materials from these products. In the search for sustainable, economical and socially responsible technologies, students can be of great help. They can deliver new insights and interact with experts on  a wide variety of challenges. For example, one of the biggest challenges is how to better collect these end-of- life products, as their abundance is quite diffused compared to primary resources being mostly centralized on selected spots. In the current economic climate the search for alternatives to fossil resources and the demand for batteries is bigger than ever. Umicore develops technologies and conducts research for the use of recycled materials while decreasing the use of primary resources in the production of batteries, electric cars, trucks, electronic devices,… On the other hand Umicore strongly invests in developing new batteries. Tom Hennebel: “By supporting programs like Smart Design, the recycling process of batteries can be considered already at the stage of production. Umicore puts a lot of effort in searching for experts and training them to assist in the development of these technologies.”. Technological solutions enabling the production of cleaner air such as catalysts are a third field of expertise that Umicore embraces. Next to the production of catalysts for the automotive industry, the recycling processes for used catalysts are equally important.

Added value for SuPER-W

Prof. Hennebel’s expertise is situated in the field of biometallurgy, a section of metallurgy that focuses on the development of microbial and biochemical conversion processes for the extraction of metals from ores, liquid and solid waste. These processes are the foundation of a wide variety of technologies focused on biomining and recovery of resources (e.g., platina, selenium and tellurium) from solid waste, wastewater, and industrial process residues with the use of bacteria.

Tom Hennebel: “By participating in the SuPER-W programme, I want to create awareness on the circular economy and importance of metal recycling processes. We cannot mine primary resources forever and dump our waste without recycling metals. In the entire metal collection and recycling process, losses of materials in each step are still high. Mostly primary materials are still being added to compensate for those losses. Therefore, it is important to conduct research to develop technologies minimizing losses in those confluents of recycling processes. However, extracting little quantities of metals from liquid and solid waste is often a costly and time consuming process. Companies such as Umicore and academic experts can develop technologies to harvest those metals in a sustainable way with the use of bacteria, consuming less energy and less chemicals.“


Larissa Terumi Arashiro,  one of our colleagues at super-w, is working on microalgae wastewater treatment at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain. Recently, Her blog post “Microalgae as a sustainable alternative for wastewater treatment” on the International Water Association (IWA) site has been announced as one of the top 5 most-viewed blogs in 2017. Her post tells us why microalgae-based technologies are so attractive and  what are the positive aspects and drawbacks of biotechnology. Besides, why the microalgae can be a sustainable alterative for wastewater treatment has been clearly explained as well.


Figure 1 ESRs learning the practice of modelling.

The third SuPER-W training event and PhD workshop was organized in Barcelona at Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) over the span of one week. The main agenda of the training included evaluating the progress of individual research work, motivational training on numerical and computational modelling and practical training sessions. The event was ended by a field trip. Below, a summary of the training event is given.

The event was kick-started by warm welcome from UPC partners, Dr. Anna Garfi and Dr. Ivet Ferrer. This was then followed by an introduction on general modelling methodology from Prof. Dr. ir. Ingmar Nopens from UGent. After a refreshing networking lunch break, Dr. Alessandro Solimeno gave an inspiring speech on his dedicated work on modelling of algae-based wastewater systems. Thereafter, Prof. Dr. Xavier Flotats took the stage and elaborated more on modelling anaerobic biological systems using Anaerobic Digestion Model 1 (ADM1). A lab tour was given by the UPC ESRs to demonstrate how UPC researchers are developing to innovative wastewater treatment solutions.

The next day was filled by ESRs’ presentations on their own project progress, and by updates on outreach activities. The PhD seminar was coordinated by Dr. Anna Garfi and Dr. ir. Han Vervaeren, while  Prof. Dr. Xavier Flotats was especially appreciated for his full participation as an external expert. Doing so, valuable remarks to and recommendations on each individual ESR’s project were given. The long though fruitful day was closed by a pleasant networking dinner with traditional local food and beverages. 

The following two days were allocated for practical modelling sessions of wetlands in 1D and 2, which consisted of a theoretical introduction and an extended hands-on section on COMSOL Multiphysics software. The training was given by Amphos21, a company specialised in environmental modelling  and consultancy. As a result of this intensive two-day training, the group was able to use COMSOL to model cases based on geochemical processes, and equipped with the know-hows to extend these models to biological systems.

After a revitalizing night by a horror city tour in downtown Barcelona, the group spent their last day for a field visit. The ESRs first arrived at the Espais Naturals del Delta del Llobregat, a river delta just beside the Barcelona Airport - El Prat. During the guided tour, the group not only learned the history of development in the area, but also showed special interest in the constructed wetland systems for treatment of wastewater from vicinity. The tour was finished by stories about the local ecosystem and a visit to a bird observation pavilion next to a lagoon. Before saying goodbye and looking forward to the next event in Delft, ESRs visited another European project INCOVER algae pilot site (


On Tuesday 30-01-2018, a panel debate is organised with key speakers, active in policy, research and entrepreneurship, moderated by Willy Verstraete! 

For detailed flyer and subscription, click here!

Monday, January 29, 2018 - 10:00 to Friday, February 2, 2018 - 15:00

This workshop will take place at TU Delft. View programme here


On 22 November 2017, CAPTURE (the Centre for Advanced Process Technology for Urban REsource recovery) is set to launch the CAPTURE Accelerator. This is an initiative of the CAPTURE platform, a partnership between professors from various faculties of Ghent University (UGent) and Flemish and international partners, both public and private. Anyone who is active in resource recovery can now join the research platform.

On this occasion, CAPTURE is not only presenting its Accelerator. A declaration of intent will also be signed between UGent and VITO, a leading European independent research and technology organisation in the areas of cleantech and sustainable development, to work together in the framework of CAPTURE. The partners consider plastic, wastewater and CO2 not as waste products but rather as resources, and CAPTURE aims to contribute to the marketing of new developments in this field. The goal is for the CAPTURE Accelerator to boost the collaboration between industry, knowledge institutions and policymakers with a view to turning Flanders into a world player in resource recovery.

In a nutshell, CAPTURE aims to:

  • Build a Flanders-wide network with strong international branches gathering outstanding expertise on resource recovery.
  • Erect a building to give stakeholders with complementary knowledge access to top-notch infrastructure on the one hand, and, on the other, to provide the necessary space to showcase integral solutions for resource recovery.
  • Act as a one-stop-shop in Flanders for both companies and government bodies.
  • Support companies, particularly start-ups, that aim to grow in the field of resource recovery, through expertise, access to top-of-the-range R&D and upscaling of infrastructure, assistance and flexible accommodation.
  • Create business platforms enabling close interaction with the industrial stakeholders.
  • Set up an advisory board consisting of key entrepreneurs and policymakers.

7,000 m2 of opportunities

As a result, CAPTURE will be supported by an existing network of players specialised in resource recovery, in collaboration with some of the largest companies in and around Ghent and Flanders. This new financing allows it to integrate its activities, make them more efficient and further develop them in the 7,000-m2 meeting and incubation centre. This aim is for this building to quickly pass on knowledge, allowing it to be put into practice. The CAPTURE Accelerator building is scheduled to open its doors in August 2018 at the Eiland science park in Zwijnaarde, on the outskirts of Ghent.

The building will include an enormous technology hall, demo infrastructure, joint laboratories and workshops. Part of the building will be owned by the Incubation and Innovation Centre of Ghent University (IIC UGent), which has years of experience in providing assistance and accommodation to spin-offs.

Regional and European support

Apart from investments by Ghent University and IIC UGent, CAPTURE can rely on support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Flemish government and the Province of East Flanders. The project calls for a total investment of 15 million euro (1.5 M from UGent, 4.8M from the ERDF, 3.9M from the Flemish government and 500k from the Province of East Flanders).

This project will give research into resource recovery a boost in an infrastructure like no other on the international scene. Companies specialising in environmental issues, SMEs and industrial groups will also have access to the space they need to develop new activities in the field of resource recovery.


IIC UGent: Eric Boodts,, +32 9 241 56 11

Professors for each pipeline

Province of East Flanders: Martine Verhoeve, representative for European collaboration, 09 267 81 59,

CAPTURE website:
General e-mail address:


Supported by

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 11:00 to Friday, October 27, 2017 - 17:00

This workshop will take place Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) (Barcelona, Spain). View the draft programme here.


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