A collaboration for making water use more sustainable

Water scarcity is becoming a reality at some Dow locations around Europe. Therefore, we are seeking opportunities to reduce the freshwater intake in the different production sites. In doing so, we are contributing to our water transition and sustainability goals. The basic principle is that efficient and reliable techniques are synchronized with high demands on water quality and costs. This is where the AquaSPICE-project steps in. Our colleagues Niels Groot and Andrea De Las Heras García, both Water Specialists at Dow, are highly involved within the AquaSPICE-project and they will tell more about it.

The AquaSPICE-project

Niels starts: “The main goals of the AquaSPICE-project are to reduce water demand, reduce or restore water loss, pre-process and recycle water and utilize alternative water sources. The project is part of a broad European consortium, a collaboration with 29 partners from industry, academia, water technology and IT companies. Within the project 6 case studies are executed, where Dow focuses on the reduction of freshwater intake.”

Terneuzen and Boehlen
The Boehlen and Terneuzen sites are among Dow's most important water-loaded sites. And for Dow, the main goal of this project is a roadmap with the potential to reduce freshwater intake by another 20% at both sites. The plan will include all the technical and financial details needed for:

  • The optimal selection of freshwater supply sources for producing extra water for cooling towers, allowing them to operate with significantly higher thickening rates.
  • The internal reuse of cooling tower blowdown streams.
  • The treatment and direct reuse of slightly contaminated process water and internal blowdown streams of contaminated condensate.

To investigate the full potential of our own Dow Case Study, a first pilot was started at Dow Terneuzen and is now successfully completed. Andrea: “Research within this pilot was done by using the IMPROVED’ mobile treatment facilities, these are mobile containers in which testing can be done. As a follow-up on the Terneuzen trials, the containers will be moved to our Dow location in Boehlen. Here a new pilot will be started, based on the Terneuzen trials as their starting point. Next the containers will return to Terneuzen to execute the final part of the trials on site. In parallel to the pilots we start the second part of the project, which covers the digitalization. We aim to make smarter use of sensing monitoring systems, to optimize the current systems, so we can reduce water loss. This way it’s all connected at some point.” “Of course we are all very excited about the next steps, Niels adds”.

Out of the 29 partners involved in the AquaSPICE-project, Dow has a close collaboration with with Evides and multiple Universities around Europe. Namely: HZ University, Ghent University, University of Crete and Athens University. Niels: “Researchers from the Universities cover the operations part of the trials together with their students. And others help them to evaluate the test results. This way, students can learn a lot from the pilots within the AquaSPICE-project.” Andrea adds: “It’s nice to work with Universities and to see that they enjoy the project and the commitment. With all 29 partners we act as a team, because we all share a common goal. That is the nicest part of these type of projects.”

European consortium
AquaSPICE is part of a broad European consortium, €10.9 million in EU grants were awarded for the implementation of this project (with a total budget of €12.8 million). The project is aligned with the European Green Deal and focuses on water scarcity, water security and all related aspects. The project has started in December 2020 and will take a total of 4 years to complete.

Project status



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Listen to the Podcast with Anton van Beek

Listen to the Podcast via the link below, in which Maikel Harte talks to Anton van Beek about the sustainable ambition of Dow Terneuzen.