Biotech pioneers win 2018 Stockholm Water Prize

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Professors Bruce Rittmann and Mark van Loosdrecht were named the 2018 Stockholm Water Prize Laureates. Photo credit: Stockholm International Water Institute.

Professors Bruce Rittmann and Mark van Loosdrecht were named the 2018 Stockholm Water Prize Laureates for their research and innovations in revolutionizing water and wastewater treatment, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) announced on March 22, 2018.

In its citation, the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee recognizes Professors Rittmann and van Loosdrecht for “pioneering and leading the development of environmental biotechnology-based processes for water and wastewater treatment. They have revolutionized treatment of water for safe drinking, and refined purification of polluted water for release or reuse – all while minimizing the energy footprint.”

Mark van Loosdrecht is a professor in environmental biotechnology at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.

Bruce Rittmann is Regents’ Professor of environmental engineering, and director of the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute.

Professor van Loosdrecht

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Professor van Loosdrecht’s research has led to the quite widely used Anammox and Nereda technologies for wastewater treatment. The Anammox process is a resource efficient way to remove nitrogen from wastewater. In industries, it is used after anaerobic wastewater treatment, while in municipal wastewater treatment it is used in combination with sludge digestion. In both cases, this results in an energy producing treatment process.

According to SIWI, the Nereda technology is based on granulation of bacteria, which allows a simpler and cheaper municipal wastewater treatment process. A Nereda plant can be built on a smaller patch of land (>60% less area needed) and uses up to 50% less energy than conventional methods. Recovery of high performance biopolymers from the ‘waste’ sludge will contribute to a future more circular economy.

Professor Rittmann

Professor Rittmann has written over 650 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Together with Professor Perry McCarty (the 2007 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate), he is also the author of the textbook Environmental Biotechnology: Principles and Applications.

Professor Rittmann has chaired the Program Committee of the Leading Edge Technology Conference of the International Water Association, where he has worked together with Professor van Loosdrecht. The membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR), a technology that Professor Rittmann invented, uses naturally occurring microorganisms to remove contaminants such as perchlorate and tricloroethene from water, and has been commercialized.

About the Stockholm Water Prize

The Stockholm Water Prize is an annual global award founded in 1991 and awarded by SIWI, to an individual, organization or institution for outstanding water-related achievements.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden will present the prize to Professors Rittmann and van Loosdrecht on behalf of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Patron of Stockholm Water Prize, at a royal award ceremony on August 29, 2018, during World Water Week in Stockholm.

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