Investments in companies, Impact - 28.11.2019
Endev, a Finnish company extracting energy and nutrients from wastewater sludge, has raised EUR 4.3 million and is scaling up its technology to full industrial production. State-owned Tesi will co-invest in the company along with Sinituote Ltd, Tejusa Ltd, Loipposet Ltd, Henri Juva, Aivi Invest Ltd and a number of private investors. Endev’s solutions are based on a circulating mass dryer and reactor combination patented in 19 countries. Energy is produced from the incineration of wastewater treatment sludge while harmful components are removed from circulation. After many years of successful testing in test plants, the company’s technology is currently undergoing joint trials with Napapiiri Energy and Water Ltd (Neve) in an industrial-scale plant in Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland.
Only incineration eliminates the harmful substances in sludge
“Incinerating the sludge prevents recirculation of harmful substances and nutrients. The valuable phosphorus contained in wastewater sludge is extracted from the burn as clean ash that can then be utilised as an ingredient of agricultural fertilisers without the risk of drug residuals re-entering circulation,” explains Endev’s CFO Arttu Laasonen. He is pleased with the progress made in testing the industrial-scale plant commissioned last summer.
Sludge incineration is fairly widespread in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Most of the sludge from wastewater plants in Finland, however, is treated by rotting or composting, and then used in agriculture or landscaping. Decomposed or composted sludge can contain harmful substances such as drug residuals and microplastics, as well as bacteria or viruses that are harmful to health. These are problematic, especially for food production. Endev’s plant can also treat sludge that has been through a biogas process.
“In terms of energy economy, our process is extremely efficient. It works without support fuel and produces excess heat that can be used in, for instance, district heat production. Our method is suited to sludge from individual wastewater treatment plants because small and medium-sized sludge treatment facilities can be built next to the wastewater plant at a reasonable cost,” says Laasonen.
Growing European market for sludge incineration
“Tesi sees a significant opportunity for international growth in Endev’s environmental technology expertise. The impact investment we made under our Circular Economy programme is aimed not only at stopping the circulation of harmful substances in sludge but also in reducing the emissions produced in transporting sludge. The process is eminently suitable for medium-sized cities, of which there are hundreds in Europe. We want to promote widespread industrial adoption of the technology. Doing so will take time and necessitate risk-taking, as will the pilot plant. But that’s essential to making a worthwhile impact,” says Tesi’s Investment Director Mikael Niemi.
Treating sludge is a global problem: the average person in the western world produces some 0.2 tonnes of sludge a year, and sludge treatment costs are rising. Switzerland has already prohibited all sludge treatment other than incineration after a transition period, and Germany plans to do the same. The Netherlands and Belgium, meanwhile, recommend incineration for treating sludge.
Endev, Arttu Laasonen, CFO, tel. +358 50 062 6848, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tesi, Mikael Niemi, Investment Director, tel. +358 50 597 7303, email@example.com
Endev Ltd is a Finnish cleantech company founded in 2011 that offers solutions for the thermal treatment of sludge produced by wastewater and industrial processes. Endev has developed its innovative solution for treating municipal wastewater sludge locally, and in an efficient and cost-effective way. The method recovers the energy and nutrients contained in sludge while simultaneously eliminating harmful components such as drug residuals and microplastics from circulation. Deploying this technology drastically reduces the amount of sludge mass transported away from the site, while the clean ash that remains can be used as agricultural fertilizer. The solution has been chosen by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment as a key project in nutrient recycling. www.endev.fi
Tesi (Finnish Industry Investment Ltd) is a state-owned investment company that wants to raise Finland to the front ranks of renewing economic growth by investing in funds and directly in companies. We invest profitably and responsibly, together with co-investors, to create the world’s new success stories. Our investments under management total 1.2 billion euros. Ambition for ownership and success www.tesi.fi | www.dtg.tesi.fi | @TesiFII
Tesi’s Circular Economy programme will provide financing of altogether MEUR 75 to companies in the circular economy sector. In addition to direct investments, the target is to create venture capital funds investing in Finland’s circular economy.