On 15 October 2018, the first Biomakery in the Netherlands was inaugurated by Abbot Dom Bernardus at Trappist Abbey Koningshoeven in Berkel-Enschot. This ecological water treatment plant purifies the wastewater of the Trappist abbey and the brewery through the interaction between microorganisms in the wastewater and microorganisms on the roots of natural plants and nature-inspired root structures, which are part of the treatment plant. The purified water is reused in the abbey's production process. The Biomakery is a promising example of a new generation of water purification for the circular economy and is the first of its kind in the Netherlands.
One of the most eye-catching aspects of the Biomakery is the fresh green plant bed. The waste water from the abbey is purified and reused locally by this ecological treatment plant. Moreover, this method of purification consumes less energy and takes up less space compared to other water purification systems. The Biomakerij building at Koningshoeven Abbey is a special architectural masterpiece. Unique is Marc Mulders' stained glass work of art, made of recycled glass. The 'botanical garden' of the purification plant is also a place for meeting and educational purposes.
The brewery in which the famous Trappist beer La Trappe is produced produces almost one million cubic metres of waste water every year. This water no longer needs to be discharged to the wastewater treatment plant. The abbey will use the purified waste water for irrigation of its own land, watering plants in the nursery and rinsing beer bottles.
Referring to the most recent studies on climate change, the monks of Koningshoeven Abbey conclude that sitting back and doing nothing else is not an option. Adjustments will have to be made in all possible areas in order to arrive at an energy transition that is CO2-neutral in a responsible manner. A material passport has been introduced for this new structure, to guarantee the reuse of building materials.
The development and innovation at the abbey does not stop with the delivery of the construction. The intention is to develop a fish farm and a hop farm in due course. The sludge from the water purification process will be made suitable as compost for the nursery. "Our ambition is based on inner conviction and is crystal clear: not a drop or a gram of raw material is left off our premises, other than in the form of beer", says Brother Isaac, prior of OLV Koningshoeven Abbey.
Peter Glas, Watergrave of the De Dommel Water Board, adds to the list: "De Biomakerij is a 100% circular water treatment plant, the first of a new generation of treatment concepts in the Netherlands. This is fully in line with the steps that water boards are taking towards a circular Netherlands in 2050."
National and international recognition
The Biomakerij project at Koningshoeven Abbey is recognised nationally and internationally for innovative circular water solutions. The project has been nominated for the Water Innovation Prize 2018 of the Union of Water Boards. In addition, as part of the EU-funded research and innovation project NextGen, the Biomakery will be used as a test and demonstration site for new business models and high-tech water circular solutions with the potential to scale up.
The Biomakerij has been made possible in part by a subsidy from the Province of Noord-Brabant and has been developed in co-creation by Abdij Koningshoeven, Waterschap De Dommel, M.J. Oomen sewer- en betontechniek B.V. (contractor), Biopolus (inventor of Biomakerij), municipality of Tilburg, Province of Noord-Brabant.