Research database

intelWATT - intelligent Water Treatment Technologies for water preservation combined with simultaneous energy production and material recovery in energy intensive industries

42 months (2024)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
UE-funded research - H2020 - Cross-cutting activities - IND
Funding body:
COMMISSIONE EUROPEA (Commissione Europea)
Project identification number:
PoliTo role:


Water is an essential natural resource that impacts all aspects of life: clean and abundant supplies of water are vital for supporting food production, public health, industrial and energy development, and an overall living healthy environment. Water is essential for industrial production and energy generation. Historically, industrial infrastructures around the world were commonly developed within a context of unconstrained water resource availability. However, unsustainable uses of water resources, population dynamics, along with climate change impacts result to this critical resource becoming scarce. Water use has been increasing worldwide by about 1% per year since the 1980s. Global water demand is expected to continue increasing at a similar rate until 2050, accounting for an increase of 20 to 30% above the current level of water use, mainly due to rising demand in the industrial and domestic sectors . To tackle this issue European Union adopted many directives (e.g.‘Water Framework Directive’ (2000/60/EC), ‘Industrial emissions’ (2010/75/EU), ‘Blueprint to safeguard European water resources’ (COM(2012) 673 final)) to set new strategies for water management in the EU. More specifically, industrial water management is one of the four areas for innovation specified in the European Innovation Partnership on water (EIP; COM(2012) 216 final), with the overall aims to: (i) increase water efficiency in production processes, and (ii) decrease pollution. However, despite all current efforts, the goal of reducing water abstraction, to below 20% of renewable freshwater resources, (as set in the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe), has not been achieved in all European river basins and does not look realistic in the short term. Hence, it remains uncertain whether significantly reducing water scarcity in Europe will be achieved by 2020. Industry is one of the main water users in Europe, accounting for about 40 % of total water abstractions . Water is used in the production process (e.g. for cooling purposes, for cleaning/washing as well as for employees’ use) and is either provided by a public supplier or self-supplied. Furthermore, the industrial sector is a major water polluter, since just 60% of its wastewater receives treatment before disposed. To mitigate these issues, sustainable water management approaches are needed. These approaches should integrate innovative and energy cost efficient technologies to reduce water consumption in industry and in parallel to enhance the resource recovery and/or energy generation. In this context, the main objective of the intelWATT proposal is to validate at TRL7, innovative & intelligent water treatment technologies combining fresh water preservation with resource recovery and energy generation based on the circular economy concept. This will be demonstrated through three different case studies in representative energy intensive activities: a) fresh water preservation though a 90% reduction of cooling tower blow down (CTBD) in a combined cycle natural gas power plant, b) energy generation and water recovery from a symbiotic scheme exploiting mining and wastewater treatment plant effluents and c) valuable materials recovery with simultaneous reduction of wastewater effluents in a metal plating facility.



  • Acsa Obras E Infraestructuras - Sorigue
  • BIA Kunststoff- und Galvanotechnik GmbH & Co. KG Case
  • Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas Solar
  • CNRS, Institut Européen des Membranes Membrane
  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)-Istituto per la Tecnologia delle Membrane (ITM)
  • CUT Membrane Technology GmbH Production
  • Fuelics
  • IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education
  • Nijhuis Industries
  • Public Power Company Greece Case
  • REDstack BV
  • Studio Fieschi
  • Techedge
  • Technische Hochschule Koeln
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Jordan
  • Warrant Hub
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ERC sectors

PE8_6 - Energy processes engineering

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 6. Garantire a tutti la disponibilità e la gestione sostenibile dell’acqua e delle strutture igienico-sanitarie


Total cost: € 11,671,506.25
Total contribution: € 9,346,027.38
PoliTo total cost: € 662,500.00
PoliTo contribution: € 662,500.00

Communication activities