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Unlocking the potential of wastewater using AI - The DARROW project introduces itself

Making the Most of Our Wastewater Using AI

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European Science Communication Institute ESCI
The European Science Communication Institute (ESCI) supports national and international research initiatives in communicating effectively and leveraging their dissemination potential.

The water discarded globally every year could fill Lake Geneva in Switzerland almost four times. But this wastewater is a treasure trove of valuable resources, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are important components of agricultural fertilizer. Recovering these resources is crucial for a circular and sustainable economy.

The European research project DARROW aims to optimise how we recover resources from wastewater. The project’s goal is to make wastewater treatment plants more efficient and autonomous by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

The DARROW researchers will train AI models on data from a multitude of sensors that monitor the water quality and treatment process. The models will then be able to provide recommendations to the treatment plant operators to optimise decisions. The AI tools developed by the DARROW project will be implemented and tested at the wastewater treatment plant RWZI Tilburg in the Netherlands.

The DARROW researchers will train AI models on data from a multitude of sensors that monitor the water quality and treatment process

“We have to make sure that the human operators that are working in the plant right now have trust in the system,” says Klaas Bombeke, researcher at imec in Belgium. He emphasises the importance of trustworthy and explainable AI. The plant operators need to be able to understand the recommendations from the AI system.

In improving the efficiency of wastewater treatment with the help of AI, the scientists in DARROW aim to decrease energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of wastewater treatment plants, as well as improve resource recovery from wastewater.

The international and interdisciplinary research team includes eight partners from four European countries: Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. The project began in September 2022 and will run for 42 months until February 2026.

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