Toilet Paper Replace Chemicals

Feb 10, 2020

Within the NEREUS project, research is being carried out into various techniques for the recovery of raw materials from domestic wastewater, including cellulose, nutrients, water and energy.

One of the recovered raw materials is cellulose from toilet paper that is extracted from the wastewater using a fine sieve.

Cellulose is poorly biodegradable in biological purification. Using enzymes, the cellulose can be broken down into smaller sugars so that it is once more available as nutrition for the bacteria in the purification process.

The smaller sugars can be used as a substitute for the carbon sources that have to be purchased for some purification processes. This can save on costs and CO2-footprint.

Converting cellulose to a carbon source

The enzymatic conversion of cellulose is researched within the NEREUS project. Cellulose is extracted and converted in the Delft Blue Innovations research hall at the Harnaschpolder WWTP (Den Hoorn, near The Hague).

In beaker tests, enzymes from different suppliers were tested for conversion efficiency as a result of which one enzyme was selected. In the continuous 200-litre pilot installation, the selected enzyme achieves the same conversion efficiency as commercially available carbon and the produced carbon source works at least as well.


Currently we are investigating optimisation in the fields of dosing of the sieve material, substrate dosing, enzyme dosing, acidity (pH) and temperature. We are also looking into the stability of the sieves and the carbon source produced. We are working on the final details of the business case to implement this process in one of our treatment plants. This project is a good example of how innovations can help reduce our CO2-footprint!

More information 

Would you like to know more about this research project? Then visit NEUREUS website or contact Jan Willem Mulder


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