S³Rem focuses on solutions to reduce the input of anthropogenic particulate materials and dissolved trace substances into the environment like, for example, micro- and macroplastics, abrasion particles from tires or paint, very fine particles from various types of waste or pharmaceutical substances. Sources are consumer products, building materials, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture and industry.
The direct discharge of precipitation into surface water, the discharge of wastewater via overflow or from sewage treatment plants as well as the direct input into soil as a result of agricultural activities were identified as particularly relevant emission paths. These emissions are not only problematic regarding their input of partially almost persistent material, but also of pollutants associated with the particles as well as dissolved pollutants . Although up to 99% of the particle load is retained in the sewage treatment plant, particulate material still gets into our water with negative effects on the water quality and the ecosystem.
Finally, the pollution restricts the use of the water or water bodies. Good water quality in accordance with the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive can only be achieved by reducing the input of sufficiently treated wastewater.
The aim of the S³Rem innovation network is the development of innovative, intelligent, efficient and sustainable solutions to reduce the input of anthropogenic particulate materials and dissolved trace substances into the environment. S³Rem is not limited to emissions from sewage treatment plants, but considers all relevant emission paths that are responsible for the input of these substances into the environment.
Innovative techniques should not only retain particulate materials of all grain sizes, but also take into account different dirt load qualities. They must also be resilient to increasing extreme conditions in the future (heavy rain events, long periods of drought), which are associated with strongly changing pollutant loads. Needs-based wastewater treatment is intended to improve water quality, enable wastewater reuse and thereby counteract the increasing water shortage.
For this, modular and easily scalable systems must be developed, for which digitization plays a central role as a controlling element. In addition, transferrable solutions from other disciplines should be taken into account. Since development and utilization go hand in hand in our S³Rem network, testing of prototypes, as well as laboratory and semi-technical tests, will define later application maturity for municipalities at an early stage.
In order to avoid or reduce the input of anthropogenic substances, either the sources can be eliminated/reduced or the emission paths can be interrupted. Since the sources cannot be completely eliminated, additional effective retention and treatment technologies are required where high particle loads are released into the environment and no or only insufficient treatment has taken place.
Since the current processing techniques are not able to effectively eliminate fine particles, which can account for up to 90% of the particle load, innovative techniques have to be developed that retain both coarse and very fine material taking into account the different dirt load qualities. Furthermore, the treatment technologies must be resilient to the extreme conditions that will increase in the future. Treatment technologies for particle separation are resilient if they efficiently treat both the widely varying amounts of water and the highly variable pollutant loads and thus enable needs-based wastewater treatment. The technologies should also counteract the increasingly noticeable water shortage by allowing the treated water to be reused.
The different requirements already suggest that modular and easily scalable systems are advantageous. In terms of technology development, the S3Rem innovation network also wants to look for transferrable solutions in other specialist areas in order to examine their applicability to water management. But also the analysis of the usability of simple processes, which can be ideally used as a supplement to highly technical process stages, should be part of the innovation developments.