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Winners in BONUS RETURN innovation challenge selected

Innovative companies from Germany, Finland and the Netherlands have been successful in an EU-funded BONUS RETURN innovation challenge. The competition gathered innovations from several European countries representing unique and sustainable solutions for reusing nutrients and/or carbon in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The winners are Aquacare in the Netherlands, TerraNova in Germany, and Ravita in Finland and will receive pre-commercialization support from the BONUS RETURN project.

According to a statement, the winning technologies have been selected based on their ability to demonstrate a strong and innovative potential to prevent, extract and reuse phosphorous which would increase resilience and food security, as well as keeping the Baltic Sea healthy.

Joris Salden from Aquacare, the Netherlands (photo courtesy SEI).

Aquacare’s BiOPhree technology is a method that enables the minimization or elimination of micro bio growth to avoid biofilm. The technology can recover phosphorous and convert it to a liquid containing concentrated phosphorous with the ability to be re-used as a fertilizer for agriculture. BiOPhree material is simple to engineer and after regeneration, reusable.

Marc Buttman from TerraNova Energy, Germany (photo courtesy SEI).

TerraNova Energy GmbH is a German-based company working with Innovative Sludge Treatment technology. The TerraNova Ultra turns sewage sludge, a contaminated side product from wastewater treatment, into climate-friendly coal for energy production and clean Phosphorous fertilizer. The final product is sterilized with low water content and can be used as CO2-neutral fuel for energy production or for agricultural application.

Mari Heinonen from RAVITA, Finland (photo courtesy SEI).

Finnish-based RAVITA provides an innovative process for nutrient recovery directly from the main wastewater stream. Phosphorus is post-precipitated in the very end of the water stream, and the chemical sludge formed precedes the main part of the RAVITA process. Chemical sludge is further processed by the dissolution and recovery steps. The formed end-product is phosphoric acid, which has high value both in fertilizer industry as well as other industrial segments.

All three innovations exceptionally fulfilled the requirements to win in the competition which included: addressing nutrient or carbon reuse from agricultural or wastewater sectors or both; provide a technology applicable in the Baltic Sea environment; a technology that is a biological, physical, or chemical intervention designed to minimize harm to the environment and provide services of value to society; and a prototype Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 or higher. They all had a TRL level between 5 -7.

BONUS RETURN will now provide business plans, perform additional tests, introduce their product to potential markets and clients, and help them to further develop a marketable product customized for Baltic municipalities. The relevance of each application to the BONUS RETURN project is fundamental, as a major aim of the competition was to establish mutual benefit between the project and winning innovations.

About Bonus and Bonus Return

BONUS is a joint research and development (R&D) programme producing knowledge to support development and implementation of regulations, policies and management practices specifically tailored for the Baltic Sea region (BSR). It issues calls for competitive proposals and funds projects of high excellence and relevance based on its strategic research agenda.

BONUS RETURN consists of a consortium of partners Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and Uppsala University, Sweden; University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Finnish Environment Institute, Finland and Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland.


BONUS RETURN aims to collaboratively support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that produce eco-technologies, by assessing their effectiveness in reducing nutrients and carbon and deploying them using test-beds and commercialization at the project’s three case study sites in Sweden, Finland and Poland.

It is a three-year project aimed at reducing emissions in the Baltic Sea by turning nutrients and carbon in the Baltic Sea into benefits. The project has received funding from BONUS (Art 185), funded jointly by the EU and runs from May 2017 to May 2020.

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