Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY and Aalto University have entered into a partnership agreement with the aim of promoting research and expertise in the fields of water services and waste management, such as production of drinking water, wastewater treatment, waste management and maintenance of water supply and sewer networks.
"Water and environmental technology and sustainable development have an important role in Aalto University’s research and strategy," says Gary Marquis, Dean of the Aalto University School of Engineering. ‘It is important for both Aalto University and the well-being of the region to strengthen the university’s collaboration with the joint municipal authority of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area,’ he continues.
The big changes taking place in society, such as population growth, urbanisation, climate change, globalisation, digitalisation and the increasing consumption of natural resources create challenges for water services and waste management.
"For example, the increasing concentrations of organic matter in natural waters are a challenge to the production of drinking water," says Riku Vahala, Professor of Water and Wastewater Engineering at Aalto University. "To solve the problem, we are currently conducting research on different membrane filtration methods. We collaborate with HSY in waste water treatment, for example, in the optimisation of processes to reduce the emissions of nitrous oxide, which is a strong greenhouse gas."
"HSY’s investment programme, which totals €150 million, will ensure that ecologically efficient and up-to-date environmental services can also be provided in future. The various development projects related to the investments provide the basis for systematic expert collaboration and development of expertise in sectors, such as the new wastewater treatment plant under construction in the bedrock in Blominmäki," says Raimo Inkinen, Executive Director at HSY.
In addition to water services, HSY is also responsible for the waste management of both residents and local authorities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Kirkkonummi. The research focuses on recycling and complete waste management systems. It is multidisciplinary research that combines a systemic perspective and modelling with logistics, processes, materials engineering, emission control, environmental effects, information management and services.
"Striving for the circular economy has increased the need to examine the composition of the waste flows in homes and develop functioning separate collection systems. There has been a lot of collaboration, for example theses, around this theme between HSY and us," says Jaana Sorvari, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Aalto University. "Our latest collaboration project is about comparing techniques for treating municipal sludge. I am especially satisfied with the collaboration that we began in the teaching of waste management last autumn," Sorvari says.
Aalto University has a lot of expertise in the fields of water services and waste management. Every year, on average 20 students graduate from these fields with a master’s degree and several with a doctorate. HSY is the biggest individual employer of Aalto University graduates with a master’s degree in technology specialising in water and environmental engineering.