Water - Energy - Nutrient Nexus in the Cities of the Future

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Civil and Environmental Engineering


With the rapid urbanization and growing population, some of the main issues in sustainable management of wastewater in cities include the protection of water resources, high energy demand in the operation of wastewater treatment facilities and direct disposal of treated effluent/by-products resulting in loss of opportunity to recover nutrients. Urban water and wastewater systems in particular are energy intensive starting from water abstraction to treatment and disposal. In large cities the management of wastewater is becoming quite important due to implications on the productivity of the aquatic environment, including critical water resources, and people's quality of life specially those who are disadvantaged in many countries.

The cities of the future needs to be evolved with integrated planning of wastewater, energy and resource management. Recovery of resources from wastewater would not only supply nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in the form of renewable fertilizer, but also it will reduce the energy demands in the production of fertilizers. Moreover, clean water can be produced which will further reduce pumping energy requirement for water supply in most cases. In particular, the use of recycled phosphorus in urban farming and agriculture in the cities of future would ensure the booming future populations can survive. In view of the booming population and associated nutritional requirements of future generations food production must increase significantly.

This project (NexCities) will lay the groundwork for future research and knowledge application on systematic understanding of complex interrelations within a newly proposed concept of Water - Energy - Nutrient nexus, as a critical subset of broader Energy-Food-Water-Environment Nexus. A participatory stakeholder model based on fuzzy cognitive maps will be adopted to understand broader implication of Water - Energy - Nutrient nexus. This project aims beyond theoretical projections related to wastewater treatment and nutrient recycling, and particularly targets generation of new data by conducting systematic experimental investigation on quantities of nutrient and energy resources and their flows in Metro Manila wastewater.

Planned Impact

The aim of NexCities project is to establish new research collaboration to address the issues of global importance. NexCities will bring consortium of interdisciplinary and multinational researchers together to address the problems of the cities of future. Through this project the consortium of researchers with a wide range of expertise will identify the critical elements of Energy-Food-Water-Environment Nexus, and will deliver knowledge and information that will have both short and long term impacts on the welfare and well being of general public, and particularly disadvantaged communities.

In short term the organisations such as water utilities in Metro Manila and in the UK will be benefited from the knowledge generated in this project. Also, research organisations, international agencies, Philippines government departments, social groups and policy institutions will be benefited by the outcomes of this project. Considering both energy and fertilizer prices in the Philippines, new knowledge generated in this project will have a long term impact on the local businesses, farmers and social communities.


10 25 50
publication icon
Damalerio R (2019) Phosphorus recovery from wastewater and sludge in MATEC Web of Conferences

Description Stakeholder Engagement Workshop, Manila, Philippines 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The stakeholder engagement workshop was held at the De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines, to engage with the key stakeholders of the project. The UK and Philippines based PIs introduced the initial findings and ambitions of the project to the local partners and stakeholders. The stakeholders were engaged and encouraged to provide their feedback on the strategies for knowledge uptake and long-term impact of the project. The workshop was used as the platform for identifying the barriers to knowledge uptake and potential application of the findings on the recovery of resources from wastewater in the Metro Manila, Philippines. The industry partner, Maynilad Water Services Inc, actively participated in the project and signed MoU with the Philippines based lead institution, De La Salle University, for long-term collaboration in the field of wastewater management. The participants concluded that the recovery of resources in the form of nutrients (fertiliser) from wastewater is an important area of innovation for long-term impact on sustainable wastewater management in growing cities such as Metro Manila (Philippines). The stakeholders agreed that the follow-on workshop to be hosted by the University of Surrey in the UK will be beneficial to the project and that the UK stakeholder can provide further input and feedback for wider impact of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://twitter.com/nexcities