New initiative Alu Circles: converting sludge waste in water plants into a valuable resource

Cost reduction and sustainability are already proven in practice for residuals from drinking water production including lime pellets and ferric sludges. Aluminium based sludges are the next target, the disposal of which comes at substantial and ever-increasing cost. Alu Circles, an international initiative based on PCP (Pre-Commercial Procurement) principles, will make this happen. Allied Waters and Corvers Procurement Services are coordinating Alu Circles.

Aluminium based sludges in drinking water plants

Aluminium based flocculants are generally used in drinking water plants treating surface water. The remaining sludge is typically sent to a disposal site as it  has few beneficial uses. The sum of internal and out-of-pocket costs of disposal often exceeds 100 €/ton sludge (as is). For a water plant producing 100 million m3/year this represents a cost of around 100.000 €/year. The challenge is to convert this one-off use of material into a sustainable solution, such as  upcycling or recycling, at lower cost. This is the principal goal of Alu Circles.

Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP), what it does

PCP stands for a co-creation by technology providers, water suppliers and researchers in a multi-stage process. The PCP instrument ( has been  specifically developed to support innovation procurement in the public sector. PCP provides the basis to develop new, sustainable solutions at near industrial scale within a period of two to four years, achieving a cost reduction of more than 30% for the aluminium sludge issue.

The Alu Circles initiative

Water suppliers can join Alu Circles at two levels:

  • The Core Team makes decisions concerning project strategy and related activities. AquaMinerals (NL) and De Watergroep (BE) have already committed.
  • Participants receive project results and gain from new value chains developed.

The overall budget for Alu Circles amounts to 1.5 million €, to be funded by members of the Core Team and Participants. The major part of the budget total  is allocated to co-fund industrial partners in the development of appropriate solutions, in additional to their own investments into their technology.

Allied Waters and Corvers Procurement Services have been designated by Lead Buyer AquaMinerals to facilitate the organization, economic and legal support and communications.

Additionally, two webinars are planned for:

  • Tuesday 15 January 2019, 12.00 h (CET)
  • Wednesday 23 January 2019, 12.00 h (CET)
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