The rapidly growing team at Limerick-based sustainability firm, 20FIFTY Partners have been awarded €1.2 million in Horizon Europe funding to continue their internationally recognised state of the art research on water circularity, resource recovery, demand reduction and decarbonisation of industrial water lifecycles. The award is a further recognition of the Limerick team’s growing international credentials as one of Europe’s leading water stewardship research units. Securing the funding is a major success, as they were awarded two of only three granted in this call.

Horizon Europe’s funding programme plays a pivotal role in addressing climate change, achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and boosting the EU’s competitiveness and growth.  €20m of funding awarded covers two projects, RESURGENCE and CORNERSTONE, both of which support the EU’s twin Green & Digital transition goals and the target to demonstrate potential for 80% of wastewater reuse by 2030​.

With a focus on state-of-the-art water circularity outcomes in the industrial sector, these projects are poised to make significant contributions to identified environmental and societal benefits, aligning with the EU’s climate neutrality goal. 20FIFTY Partners will build upon 20 years of leading water research in the industrial sector, including their recently published EPA-funded Industrial Water 4.0 report, to deliver the outcomes.

Both projects are expected to contribute to sustainable industrial water consumption, enable full circular use of water, and maximize recovery of substances and energy in wastewater streams.  To achieve these outcomes, the projects will seek to combine existing and novel water treatment technologies, smart monitoring technologies, and advanced digital tools for optimization. The integration of these technologies aims to enable the techno-economic feasibility of processes and technologies for water treatment and recycling.

Welcoming the news, Ken Stockil, CEO, 20FIFTY Partners, said According to the UN, Industrial water use globally is expected to grow dramatically by 2050 with a 400% growth rate predicted across global manufacturing sites alone. This is unsustainable. Delivering this highly impactful research will provide significant environmental and societal benefits​, contributing to the EU climate neutrality goal. This is exactly the type of impact we want to make as we build on our expertise in leading water research in the industrial sector. For our first engagement in Horizon Europe, this is an incredible achievement for which I would like to thank all the team involved.”

Dr Tara Higgins, EPA Programme Manager, said​ “The EPA is delighted to see previous EPA-funded research by 20FIFTY Partners now being built on and taken forward through these larger European projects. Improving water circularity in the industrial sector can make a significant contribution to meeting our climate and sustainability objectives, and we congratulate 20FIFTY Partners on their success in securing Horizon Europe funding for this important research.

Dr Sergio Fernandez-Ceballos, National Delegate for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland, said The Energy Process Industries’ climate neutrality goal is strongly related to the objectives of becoming independent of fossil fuel with greener, more energy efficient production processes, advancing digitalisation and embracing the circular economy. Contributing to this agenda, RESURGENCE and CORNERSTONE scored among the top three projects in Europe in the Process4Planet Horizon Europe programme and show novel and sustainable avenues and technologies for industrial water treatment. Horizon Europe offers significant opportunities to Irish SMEs and it is great to see the 20FIFTY Partners team working with leading EU Steel, Pulp & Paper and Chemicals industries at this scale.” 

CORNERSTONE, the first successful win for 20FIFTY Partners in Horizon Europe, involves 16 consortium partners from eight countries and is part of a €10 million fund from the European Commission. This project, focusing on water, energy, and solute recovery, targets key industries such as steel, paper, and chemical, due to their importance in realising the objectives of Processes4Planet and contributing to a sustainable European industrial water management approach.

The overall objective of RESURGENCE is to boost the transformation of EU process industries into Wastewater Resource Recovery Facilities [WWRRF] to achieve three of the key EU 2050 objectives: climate neutrality, circularity, and competitiveness.  A comprehensive portfolio of modular and flexible treatments and digital technologies will be developed to maximise water and energy recovery and efficiency, increasing Industrial Wastewater valorisation.

20FIFTY Partners is a leading organisation in the global water stewardship movement, facilitating the highly successful Water Stewardship Ireland Community of Practice in addition to its research efforts. They are the delivery partner for the award winning Uisce Eireann Water Stewardship Programme, co-funded by Skillnet Ireland.   In 2021, they were awarded the Water Governance Award from Water Europe to recognise two decades of transforming Ireland into a global leader in water stewardship​.