To Dr. Rafael Aharon, globs of raw biological sewage are nothing less than a gold mine.

“When you mine something, it means you get value and recycle,” Aharon, CEO of the Jerusalem-based firm Applied CleanTech told The Jerusalem Post in an interview two weeks ago.

Through its Sewage Recycling System, Applied CleanTech targets sewage in its bio-s
olid form before it becomes useless sludge. After extraction, the bio-solids are sterilized and transformed into a cellulose-based product called Recyllose – which is useable in the paper, construction, plastic and energy industries, the company explained. Removal of the bio-solids reduces wastewater treatment plant costs by up to 30 percent as a result of halving the amount of sludge formation.

On Tuesday night, Applied CleanTech signed an agreement to install and study the benefits of its Sewage Recycling System in a Dutch wastewater treatment facility as well as a Dutch paper mill. Directly involved in the collaboration is a wide range of Dutch companies and institutions, including Agentschap NL, Smurfit Kappa Roermond Papier, Israel Innovations, Aa en Maas Water Board, Center of Competence Paper and Board, the Organization of Applied Research in Water Management and the Applied Research Center.

As part of the collaborative agreement, Applied CleanTech will install its Sewage Recycling System at the Aa en Maas Water Board’s municipal wastewater treatment plant in Aarle-Rixtel for a test period in early 2014. Afterward, the company will install its system at the industrial process water treatment facility at Smurfit Kappa Roermond Papier. Assuming the outcome of these trials is successful, all of the parties intend to expand the collaboration in the Netherlands, according to Applied CleanTech.

“We hope that after a successful trial period, our sewage mining technology will be installed across the Netherlands ensuring a greener, power efficient future for generations to come,” Aharon said.

Recyllose can be sold for approximately 100 euros per tons due to its multifunctionality, Aharon told the Post in the interview earlier this month. For example, mixed with plastics it can be used for roofing, creating computer parts or building an electricity box, he explained. Combined with pulp Recyllose is useful in the paper industry, and it can also be used as a biomass energy generator, he added.

To Job Rosenhart, energy advisor for Dutch industry at Agentschap NL, the collaboration signifies the launch of “a new era of cooperation between Israel and the Netherlands in water and energy.”

“We view this cooperation as strategic due to the cultural compatibility and complimentary needs and abilities of both peoples, and hope it would be the one of many such successful ventures between our two nations,” Rosenhart said.

In addition to the agreement with the companies and government institutions in the Netherlands, Aharon told the Post that the company will likely be signing another agreement in Scotland in the near future.

Tony Conway, strategic programs director at United Utilities in Scotland, confirmed that there have been many discussions about a future collaboration, and that the two sides are in the final stages preceding the preparation of a pilot program.

“I just think it’s a piece of technology that’s the right tech at the right time,” Conway said. “People think that wastewater is a problem but really it’s a massive opportunity.”