From waste to resource: Training young researchers on developing innovative, circular solutions for wastewater treatment sludge - INCLUE

About INCLUE Project

From waste to resource: Training young researchers on developing innovative, circular solutions for wastewater treatment sludge


The overarching aim of INCLUE is to provide top-level training to a new generation of high-potential doctoral candidates (DCs) in a crucial field of today’s society: the exploitation of organic waste streams as a resource.

In this training through research program, INCLUE doctoral candidates will focus on sustainable and circular solutions to treat wastewater treatment sludge containing a wide variety of (in)organic pollutants, enabling the application of this untapped resource for renewable chemicals, materials, fuels and fertilisers.

INCLUE hereby responds to the European Green Deal and Farm-to-Fork strategy, in which sludge has been identified as a prime biogenic renewable resource to boost circular economy in terms of renewable energy generation and organic fertilisers production.

INCLUE entails an intersectoral consortium of 6 academic and 11 non-academic partners from 7 countries, who have developed an interdisciplinary training program, encompassing the fields of chemical & environmental engineering, (nano)materials science, chemistry, environmental biotechnology, microbial ecology, life sciences, modelling and

The success of the program is guaranteed via a unique combination of state-of-the-art PhD research, intersectoral secondments, international mobility and interdisciplinary platform-wide courses.

Research objectives

  • Develop and optimise sustainable techniques to enhance the properties and composition of sludge through removal of (in)organic pollutants to eliminate any adverse effects for sludge application (i) in a subsequent bioconversion process or (ii) directly as a fertiliser on land.
  • Develop augmented fermentative bioconversion processes to produce renewable chemicals and fuels, and to recover nutrients from municipal and industrial sludges, potentially combined with pre-treatment technologies.
  • Create tools to assess the overall environmental performance of treated sludges towards toxicity, pollutant soil dynamics and agricultural fertilising value in a combined decision support tool (WP3) for 5 different types of pollutants: pesticides, endocrine disrupting compounds, heavy metals, PFAS and antibiotics. Develop a socio-economic evaluation tool, to support decision-making and societal acceptance.