Advancing circular water use in Europe
5 June 2024

For Dow, water dependency is a critical business continuity challenge. The company identified facilities in Böhlen, Germany and Terneuzen, the Netherlands as key water stressed sites based on watershed stress, dependency on freshwater and importance of production capacity. These areas will require significant water investments to supply the surrounding community and ensure continued operations.

Currently, mildly impacted water streams such as cooling tower blowdowns are discharged as effluent. Technological advancements present an opportunity to create water circularity loops.

Both Dow locations in Terneuzen and Böhlen have joined the AquaSPICE consortium, in line with the company’s 2025 Sustainability Goal for World Leading Operations Performance, which includes a reduction of freshwater intake intensity. The AquaSPICE initiative aims to treat cooling tower blowdown streams and slightly impaired wastewater streams to create a stable and reliable water source that can be recycled for industrial use such as cooling tower make-up water and feed for demineralisation. Funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 allows for the piloting of advanced water treatment technologies and smart water management via digitisation.

In AquaSPICE, Dow is joined by both academical partners – University Ghent in Belgium, RWTH Aachen in Germany and HZ University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands – and industrial service providers – Evides Industriewater and ENGIE’s research centre Laborelec. New water treatment technologies were tested  in a mobile research facility connected to an existing cooling tower at each site. The pilot study tested several technological trains treating cooling tower blowdown. Initial data shows that the process can achieve high-quality water across key indicators with granular activated carbon, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis technologies.

Carrie Houtman, Sustainability Director for Climate and Circularity at Dow, noted:

‘This partnership demonstrates that science and creative problem-solving can have significant impacts on watershed health and ensure access to high-quality water across a watershed.’

To put this pilot into broader use, the consortium will share the data and approach with Athens University of Economics and Business, Technical University of Crete, Eurecat, KWR Water Research Institute, Institute of Communication and Computer Systems and Acceligence Limited to develop a digitalised, enhanced water reuse model. This model will include a digital smart control and integration algorithm of the existing water grid. When paired with life cycle assessment methodology, developed in cooperation with the University of Huddersfield in the UK, it will account for the environmental footprint of the improved water treatment and reuse technology.

Through this initiative, Dow is reducing its freshwater intake intensity by enhancing the internal recycling of various process water streams and contributing to next-level of site water management.

More information:

The Green Way
Water resilience
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