Three research projects involving Ƶ have been awarded a share of £40million funding from Ofwat – the Water Services Regulation Authority.

The funding is from Ofwat’s fourth , a competition seeking projects with the potential to deliver wide-scale, transformational change benefitting customers, society and the environment.

The three projects to receive funding at Cranfield are:

Proving the concept of sewage sludge pyrolysis

Led by Thames Water, brings together Ƶ and a consortium of industry partners to deliver the first continuously operating sludge-fed UK based demonstration plant. Dr Stuart Wagland, Reader in Energy and Environmental Chemistry, is Cranfield’s academic lead for the project.

Addressing the need for the UK water sector to diversify the way in which sewage sludge is managed, the project seeks to prove the concept of pyrolysis – an advanced thermal conversion technology – to recycle sludge and maximise the value of biosolids.

PFAS: A whole system approach to an impossible problem

Per/poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – ‘forever chemicals’ – are synthetic compounds that have contaminated many water sources. These have many applications including in non-stick coatings for cookware, as well as waterproofing and stain resistance in clothing, paints and food packaging.

, led by Severn Trent, and Prof Peter Jarvis and Dr Irene Carra from Ƶ, will focus on treatment options to remove and destroy PFAS during drinking water treatment. The project will develop PFAS treatment solutions from a combination of technologies, to deliver important data that will influence process selection in the water sector and beyond.

ALL-Streams HTO

aims to pave the way for water industry circularity, utilising advanced thermal processing to treat biowaste and recover natural resources.

The group involved will demonstrate Hydrothermal Oxidation’s capabilities in bioresources management, bringing environmental benefits and enhancing resource recovery from sewage sludge. Led by Anglian Water, Bruce Jefferson, Professor of Water Engineering at Ƶ is the academic lead.

Transformational change

“Research into water systems, infrastructure and sustainability has never been more vital,” said Professor Leon Terry, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Ƶ. “Our track record in research excellence and the ability to work successfully with industry on practical applications will bring huge value to these projects, which have the potential to make a real-world difference to the water sector.”

Helen Campbell, Senior Director at Ofwat said: “There are big challenges in the water industry that must be solved, some are well known and others are less so. In our fourth Water Breakthrough Challenge we called for solutions with potential to deliver wide-scale, transformational change for customers, society and the environment – and that’s exactly what today’s winners have done.

“From raingardens to prevent flooding to green energy from treated sewage, innovations to cut the water sector’s carbon footprint to robots that patrol the pipe network, the winners are all helping shape a more sustainable and efficient water sector.”

The funding follows an award from Ofwat in February for Cranfield’s work with Microvi on a bio-based process to remove and recover phosphorus from water, which was awarded almost half a million pounds from the Water Discovery Challenge.

The University also recently announced funding for the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience II, giving 60 students the skills and knowledge to help create a more water secure world.