From Pollutant to Power | NWO STW – IWT

Within the “N2kWh: From Pollutant to Power” project, KU Leuven and TU Delft conduct research into the extraction of ammonia from waste streams. In addition, the consortium is developing a new technology to produce electricity from these residual flows via the use of fuel cells. The ultimate goal is to generate energy from waste.

The research focuses on two different types of waste streams:

  • Waste streams with a high concentration of nitrogen and a large amount of organic material, such as manure.
  • Waste streams with a high concentration of nitrogen and low organic fraction, such as urine or waste water from specific drinking water treatments.

The researchers are developing different treatments for both types of waste streams. First, bound nitrogen is converted into ammonium (NH4+) via anaerobic digestion. Under basic conditions, the ammonium is converted into ammonia (NH3). Proceeding, the ammonia is captured and used as fuel in a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell, together with the methane that is formed in the process.

For the second waste stream, anaerobic digestion is a less suitable option due to low organic fraction. Therefore, the researchers are developing a pervaporation technique in which membranes with a high affinity and selectivity extract the ammonia.


  • KU Leuven (BE)
  • TU Delft (NL)


  • AvoRe/InOpSys (BE)
  • Biolectric (BE)
  • HoSt (NL)
  • Royal HaskoningDHV (NL)
  • Waternet (NL)
  • Fiaxell (CH)


  • Technology Foundation STW (NL)
  • Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT-Flanders, BE)

Share this article via: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook