EcoEng Newsletter No. 12, June 2006

On Biopros et al. - IEES becomes an institutional platform for EU projects

Content No. 12/06
  Title page / Index
  Water from the well
  Phototrophic biofilms
  optimising waste flow
  India: Water supply
  schemes in a slum
  Austria: Sewerless city
  Composting: Ch. 5
  PNG: Ecosan project
  Biopros project
  Ecosan curriculum CD
EcoEng News:
  Joe Swamp
Various issues:
  IEES Writers' Fund
  Mailing list
  EE-Newsletter Flier
by Katharina Conradin
seecon gmbh
Laurenzentorgasse 8
CH-5000 Aarau

Katharina Conradin has been studying Geography, Man-Society-Environment (MGU) and English since 2002. Several stays outside Switzerland, in South America and India, e.g. during an internship on ecological sanitation in Pune aand Bangalore in spring 2006. Since August 2005 she is working for seecon.

1. What is BIOPROS?


BIOPROS - "Solutions for the safe application of wastewater and sludge for high efficient biomass production in Short-Rotation-Plantations" - is an EU funded Collective Research project that started in September 2005 and will last 3 years. During this time the consortium of 25 partners from 12 different countries will carry out specific research, training and dissemination activities in the field of safe and efficient wastewater reuse and sewage sludge application for the production of renewable energy crops in so called Short Rotation Plantations (SRP).

In Collective Research projects, researchers and technical developers like research centres and universities carry out research activities on behalf of Industrial Associations or Groupings (IAGs) in order to expand their knowledge base. The gained knowledge will be the base for training activities on Short Rotation Plantations and will thus contribute to spread the knowledge about biomass production in SRPs throughout Europe.


1.1. Project Objectives and Aims


The economic situation for European farmers deteriorated constantly during the last decade because of increasing cost pressures on agricultural products. Priorities in EU's common agricultural policy change and foresee to strengthen farmers' role in rural development and fulfilment of quality standards for environment, animal protection and food security. To be competitive, farmers are obliged to adapt their business activities in terms of alternative products and quality requirements.

Short-Rotation-Plantations are a very promising alternative source of income by cultivating fast growing trees species. Income for SRP farmers emerges from both high production of wooden biomass and from biological treatment of the applied "human wastes" by the crops' nutrient and water demand. Moreover, the production of CO2 neutral wooden biomass is increased, whereas the need for application of chemical fertilizers is decreased up to 100%. In this way, the pollution of aquifers and surface waters potentially arising from uncontrolled wastewater and sludge application can be prevented, soil and agricultural land is improved.

Thus SRPs perfectly meet general requirements not only for farmers in the former EU15 but also in the new member states and candidate countries and can create additional employment especially in disadvantaged rural areas. In areas with low access to modern treatment facilities, SRPs are a low-cost alternative for the construction of cost intensive high standard treatment technologies.

The core aim of the BIOPROS-project is to gain knowledge about the economic, ecological and technical feasibility of SRPs for different local conditions and market requirements and to transfer this knowledge to farmers, biomass processors, engineers, decisions takers. This will contribute to promote SRP biomass production between small and medium-sized enterprises throughout Europe and abroad. Main focus will lay on the safe and efficient application of wastewater/sludge to guarantee high yields and sufficient treatment performance without any negative environmental or hygienic impacts. The project shall counter the lack of knowledge about the high SRP potential and prejudices against the application of human wastes. For this reason, a wide range of aspects will be subject of research including SRPs" best practice and costs as well as related legislation and standards.


2. Contribution of IEES


2.1. Research and Development

To fulfil EU environmental legislation the quality of wastewater/sludge treatment has to be improved many European regions. Because SRPs can be a low-cost complement or alternative for high efficient wastewater/sludge treatment the current situation in this field is of huge importance for the SRP potential.

The IEES supports Bioazul (a Spanish environmental engineering company) in investigating the current situation, which is important for the later evaluation of the SRP application potential. This includes research on the amount of currently treated/untreated wastewater/sludge, the contribution of current wastewater discharge to surface water/groundwater pollution, the connection degrees to centralised/decentralised wastewater treatment facilities, cost comparisons between SRP treatment and conventional wastewater treatment and an assessment of the currently used technologies for wastewater treatment. The results of these investigations are the base for the appraisal of the SRP potential for wastewater/sludge treatment in the selected regions. They will also be published in a "Report on current wastewater/sludge treatment situation in the BIOPROS regions" by the IEES and its partners


2.2. Education and Training

Adequate strategies and methodologies for training and dissemination of information are being developed by the IEES in cooperation with other IAGs to reach the maximum training effect. Adequateness means for instance to take into account the low access for electronic media/conferences of most of the potential end-users (esp. farmers), the specific situation in the targeted regions as well as their technological and biological background. The training material must find the balance between interest rising and hard-fact presentation and will be available in the participating IAG countries' languages.

In addition to training and dissemination material for IAG members with low IT awareness, the development of an Internet based e-learning platform will provide adequate training performance to specific IAG members like engineers and scientists but will also be open for all other targeted end-users and stakeholders. The platform will be accessible from all partners own websites and from the BIOPROS website ( and will include a guided information and trainings programme accessible for all project partners, based on the SRP-guidelines. IEES will be responsible for the development of the e-learning platform with support of Technologie-Transfer-Zentrum Bremerhaven.


2.3. Documentation & Guidelines

In collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Technologie-Transfer-Zentrum Bremerhaven and the Estonian Agricultural University, the IEES will work on publishing guidelines and best practices for sustainable wastewater and water resource management. This task has been foreseen to analyse all issues related to safety issues of wastewater application in SRPs, such as the applicable wastewater qualities and quantities (considering current legislation on EU and national level); research results on levels of pathogens, heavy metals and other pollutants; investigation of existing monitoring-control technologies for wastewater/sludge application; plantation design; use of chemicals to control weed and parasites. The results, which also bear in mind existing guidelines, will be put in a "Guidelines on safety issues for SRP wastewater application".


3. Further Involvement of the IEES in Projects of the European Union


The IEES is currently also involved in other EU projects related to sanitation and sustainable natural resources management i.e. the NETSSAF (Network for the development of Sustainable approaches for Large Scale Implementation of Sanitation in Africa) and SUSTAINAQUA (Integrated approach for a sustainable and healthy freshwater aquaculture).



The IEES is part of the NETSSAF - a coordination action that aims to bring together the most relevant stakeholders in the field of sustainable sanitation in Sub-Saharan African and Europe, in order to accelerate progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals related to sanitation. It promotes international cooperation between research organisations, associations, universities, and social and governmental stakeholders in a European and Sub-Saharan African context, focussed in particular in the West African countries.

The sustainable sanitation expert and research co-ordination platform and an expertise network shall allow for co-ordination, assessment and guidance of suitable research and strategic activities with the aim of identifying best practices, gaps in knowledge and barriers to further execution. NETSSAF aims at developing a variety of innovative, adaptable and replicable approaches to sustainable sanitation, integrating appropriate low-cost technologies with community-based management and their relevant governance, institutional frameworks and socio-economic constraints. The main outcome will be the development of a participative multi-stakeholder sanitation management Support Tool aimed for the end-users to be able to apply large scale sanitation concepts and technologies adapted to the different conditions prevailing in Africa.



With regard to over-fishing of a large part of the world's marine fish stocks and increasing fish consumption, the strengthening of sustainable alternatives is of critical importance. The most promising one is the aquaculture industry which dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (90%), providing more than 60.000 jobs in Europe. The aquaculture farmers" success in the growing global aquaculture market depends in a great measure on their ability to stand the different requirements: to compete with foreign aquaculture products and to respond to European and national political and consumers' quality, environmental and health requirements.

Therefore, the overall objective of SUSTAINAQUA, in which the IEES takes an active role (i.e. in the "Tropehus Ruswil", (see is to expand the knowledge base of the European freshwater aquaculture farmers by training them mainly in following three clusters of innovation: (1) Diversification of economical valuable products, (2) improving product quality, and (3) Improving the profitability of production; and with this to improve their overall competitiveness.


4. The IEES as institutional platform


The IEES is available as an institutional platform also for other interested parties who wish to participate in EU projects. If you are interested, please contact:


c/o Dr. Johannes Heeb

Bahnhofstrasse 2
CH-6110 Wolhusen
Phone: +41 79 366 68 50


Further information on Biopros:

© 2006, International Ecological Engineering Society, Wolhusen, Switzerland