In view of the increasing scarcity of fossil carbon feedstock and a parallel increase in carbon demand, science and industry are faced with the challenge to urgently close any possible carbon loop. Besides diminishing resources, also the amount of waste is massively increasing, with e.g. many of the products we use in our everyday lives like cleaning products, cosmetics, and their packaging materials ending up as waste and pollute water. Processing of these waste(water) streams for the generation of energy via incineration and for water purification causes immense emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane.
The WaterProof project aims at closing the waste(water) carbon loop by creating a novel biorefinery concept, converting CO2 emissions from urban waste and wastewater treatment facilities into valuable green consumer-products. For this purpose, WaterProof combines waste(water) treatment with efficient CO2 recycling, thus contribution to a clean water cycle with zero-waste. At the heart of WaterProof is an electrochemical process that converts CO2 emission captured from consumer waste incineration and wastewater treatment facilities into formic acid. Formic acid is used in valuable green consumer products such as cleaning detergents and for the tanning of fish leather. It further is used for the generation of acidic deep eutectic solvents (ADES), that can recover precious metals from wastewater sludge and incineration ashes. Additional products of the electrochemical process are peroxides that can be applied to remove pharmaceuticals and pesticides from wastewater. As WaterProof’s electrochemical process uses renewable energy, it contributes to a clean water cycle with zero-emission. WaterProof enables the closing of the waste(water) carbon loop and the shift from fossil to renewable carbon sources. It hereby supports the transition towards a climate-neutral Europe and an effective and truly circular economy.