Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT November 2016

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 18 of 47

www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | NOVEMBER 2016 | 19 Project focus Wastewater treatment New biological engineering centre set to boost microbe innovation Project focus N ewcastle University's new Biological Engineering: Wastewater Innovation at Scale (BE:WISE) research facility is a European first in large-scale wastewater treatment research using bacteria. The new facility - based at Northumbrian Water's sewage treatment plant at Birtley, near Gateshead, will play a key role in improving how sewage is treated, by speeding up the transition from ● Major new research facility opened at North East sewage treatment works ● £1.7M plant jointly funded by EPSRC, Newcastle University and Northumbrian Water ● Largest facility of its type in Europe uses 30,000 P/E wastewater stream of the wastewater treatment process, so that new ways to treat wastewater can be developed with greater confidence. Planning a sustainable future Northumbrian Water Group and the water industry have a duty of care to customers and to the environment to treat wastewater in a sustainable way. This means minimising the energy and chemicals used in our treatment processes, reducing (ultimately to zero) harmful emissions and recovering energy, nutrients and other valuable by-products from wastewater as we treat it. To put this in context, Northumbrian Water has 413 sewage treatment works and treats around 800 million litres of wastewater every day from 1.2 million properties. We are already harnessing energy that is naturally present in wastewater by converting it into gas and electricity and we are also looking at how we can make useful products such as hydrogen. The challenges are significant though. Sewage treatment accounts for up to 1.5% of UK electricity usage, much of it for aeration. The UK water industry generates four million tonnes of CO2 per annum - 0.7% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Even as we seek to reduce this impact, we are striving to deliver ever higher levels of environmental protection. We are becoming increasingly aware of the need to deal with compounds that are present in sewage that come from homes, businesses and communities that we serve. These compounds can be found in cleaning products, personal care products, pharmaceuticals and commercial waste. With conventional treatment processes it is, at best, difficult and energy intensive to remove these compounds during the wastewater treatment process; o•en it is impossible. Interestingly, many of the compounds that we are seeking to remove are actually valuable, things like nutrients (fertiliser), metals (including platinum, gold and silver) and other rare elements, so removing and recovering them could be a win-win. Globally the challenges are even greater. More than two billion people on the planet do not currently have access to effective sanitation. Population growth and climate change, especially when combined with growing demand for water and food means that delivering sustainable wastewater treatment, including recovering energy and existing energy-intensive treatment processes to low carbon alternatives that have lower running costs. Operating as a 'mini' sewage treatment works, the BE:WISE facility will allow experiments to be run using 10,000 times more microbes than can be used in the laboratory, providing researchers with a realistic, large- scale setting to better understand how complex biological interactions work at different scales. It will allow them to test and replicate different elements Northumbrian Water CEO Heidi Mottram (centre le , front row) visits the new facility Chris Jones RESEaRCh aNd dEVELOPMENT MaNagER NORThUMBRiaN WaTER

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