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Brunel wins share of £3.5 million for cutting-edge water sector innovation

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Anglian Water and partners including Brunel University London have won £3.5 million in the UK water regulator Ofwat’s first Water Breakthrough Challenge, as part of £36 million of innovation investment announced today.

The partners’ Triple Carbon Reduction solution will use novel technologies to target a step-change reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use in used water treatment, and will provide a renewable energy source through green hydrogen – produced using renewable energy to split hydrogen from water through electrolysis. This ‘triple carbon’ synergy will help achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The Water Breakthrough Challenge contributes to Ofwat’s goal of creating an innovative and collaborative water sector that can meet the needs of customers, society, and the environment into the future. The Challenge funds initiatives that water companies would otherwise be unable to invest in or explore. 

Prof Evina Katsou, Professor in Water and Environmental Engineering at Brunel, said: “The Triple Carbon Reduction project has the real potential to lead a unique revolution in the water industry towards the target of net zero by 2030.

“Through the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions, the reduction of energy use, and resource recovery in wastewater treatment using AI date-driven analytics to monitor and reduce negative environmental impacts and customer costs, a new generation of wastewater treatment plants is evolving.

“Driven by advanced monitoring and control, the UK water industry will help to halt global warming and will promote the conservation of our natural resources in the 21st Century.”    

Adam Brookes, Anglian Water’s Manager of Innovation Discovery, added: “Funding for this project will greatly support the delivery of our own net zero routemap and the water sector's drive to net zero by 2030, filling a significant missing piece in the challenge.

“By collaborating with academia, businesses and other water companies, our project creates an elegant solution to eliminate part of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with wastewater treatment and position the sector within the developing hydrogen landscape, in line with the newly launched UK Government Hydrogen strategy.”

Entries to the Water Breakthrough Challenge were encouraged from water companies in England and Wales in partnerships with organisations in and outside the water sector, including universities and institutes, retailers, start-ups, or small businesses in sectors such as energy, manufacturing, health, or financial services.

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat, said: “From Airbus and Microsoft to the Zoological Society of London and the River Trust, the Water Breakthrough Challenge has led to the formation of exciting partnerships with water companies to improve services for customers and improve the environmental footprint of the sector.

“Each of the winners contribute to the resilience, sustainability and effectiveness of the water sector in the years to come for the benefit of customers across the country. Thank you to the independent judging panel for its challenge and insight in recommending these impressive winners.” 

The full list of partners in Anglian Water’s Triple Carbon Reduction solution: Brunel University London, Cranfield University, Element Energy Ltd, Jacobs, Northern Ireland Water, OxyMem, Scottish Water, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and the University of East Anglia.

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