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Billund BioRefinery leads the way for Danish clean tech

The demonstration project the Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Future has through its solid results and very keen international interest shown the value of Danish clean tech

The Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Future was officially inaugurated today, but has shown its worth as a Lighthouse Project over its 4-year development period. The environmental results have exceeded expectations and the international interest has been very strong. The first contracts for export of sustainable technologies have already been secured, followed by a solid and interesting pipeline of projects.

“Billund BioRefinery has in a very short time proven its value on the export markets. It is a Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Future that is able to achieve better treatment results, lower the energy consumption and make better use of the resources in the wastewater than other plants. Denmark has an increase it its export of Danish water solutions. We must pursue and develop this increase so that Denmark can help solve some of the environmental challenges in the world and at the same create new jobs in Denmark”, says Minister for Environment and Food Esben Lunde Larsen who visited the plant last spring to get a personal first-hand impression of the plant.

In a very short time, the project has helped securing two contracts for plants in South Korea and a number of very interesting collaboration possibilities are under way.

“Billund BioRefinery has opened a dialogue with potential clients all over the world which holds some very interesting possibilities – not only for us, but for the entire Danish environmental export. On the home front, the project has also shown that well-established and efficient Danish wastewater treatment plants can be upgraded to energy-producing plants with increased resource recovery and contribution to the circular economy”, says Managing Director Leif Bentsen from the environmental company Krüger A/S who has worked closely with Billund Vand to develop Billund BioRefinery.

After the key technology Exelys™ was put into operation, all expectations to the energy production, treatment efficiency and reduction of residues for disposal have been more than fulfilled. The energy surplus is distributed to the power and district heating network and will benefit the local community, sludge for disposal is significantly reduced and the total amount of nutrients discharged to recipients is reduced by approx. 60%.

During the entire project period there has been a keen interest to visit the plant and BBR has greeted approx. 1,600 visitors from Denmark and 800 from abroad. Add to this several thousand participants at international conferences to which Billund BioRefinery has been invited to present the project. The interest continues unabated, e.g. with participation in two conferences in USA and in Stockholm Waterweek this autumn – with Billund BioRefinery participating in these conferences as invited guests.

The recognition has also presented itself in the form of a number of merit awards, such as Svend Auken’s environmental prize, the European Business Award, and Global Water Awards. This is generally in recognition of the visions behind the project and the targeted ambition to convert waste streams to valuable resources.

The ambition has been achieved owing to a well-functioning public-private partnership where joint targets and clearly defined rules have contributed to a successful project.

“From the beginning, we wished to create a joint identity in the project. We put a lot of emphasis on letting the key employees from Krüger and Billund Vand get to know each other. The purpose was not only to create a technological lighthouse project but to develop the project with as much benefit as possible for all parties involved”, says Managing Director Ole P. Johnsen.

Billund BioRefinery combines a wide range of technologies in a unique way so that less energy is applied for wastewater treatment. At the same time, the treated wastewater is much cleaner than requested by the strict Danish standards and much more energy is recovered from the wastewater and waste, and the amount of the sludge is reduced and refined to an odourless, easily manageable and very efficient organic fertiliser for agricultural purposes.

98% of all wastewater and household waste sorted at source is now recycled at Billund which is totally unique at international level – and creates a whole new outlook on wastewater and waste as valuable resources.

Watch a video from the inauguration:

Watch video from the open house event:

Facts on Billund BioRefinery

  • The energy production has increased by 60% from approx. 8.6 mill. kWh to approx. 14 mill. kWh per year. Billund BioRefinery is now net exporter of CO2-neutral energy for power and district heating networks.

  • The capacity for treatment of e.g. nitrogen has been increased by 35,000 PE by means of the technology Anitamox. This provides the wastewater treatment plant with a large extra capacity for future connections.

  • The discharge of nutrients from the plant has already now been reduced by approx. 60%. When all technologies have been fully implemented, this will correspond to a reduced emission of approx. 12 tons of pure nitrogen.

  • The unique Danish technology, EXELYS with thermal hydrolysis is the main contributor to the big growth in the energy production - and the sludge amount treated in the EXELYS is at the same time reduced by 30-40%.

  • The content of nitrogen and phosphorus in the organic fertilizer is increased by approx. 18% and the absolute amount of xenobiotics is 30% lower.

  • A plant with great perspectives for Danish environmental export and a shop window for the leading Danish competencies within wastewater treatment and environmental technology with visits so far from 787 international specialists and politicians as well as 1,585 Danish guests.

  • The project was started in 2013 and is inaugurated on 8 June 2017.