• Homes heated by human sewage could be a reality thanks to Aston University

Green Energy

Homes heated by human sewage could be a reality thanks to Aston University

May 08 2024

An Aston University's project, funded in part by Ofwat's £4.5 million allocation, aims to revolutionise sewage treatment by converting waste into clean water and energy. Partnering with engineering consultancy ICMEA-UK, the initiative targets extracting energy from sewage and water treatment waste, converting it into hydrogen or methane for powering homes.

Led by Dr. Jude Onwudili of Aston University's Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI), the project, named REvAR (Renewable Energy via Aqueous-phase Reforming), focuses on developing a system to transform solid residues from wastewater treatment plants into valuable fuel gases. This two-stage process involves converting organic components in sewage sludge into liquid intermediates, then further transforming them into fuel gases.

REvAR utilises hot-pressurised water and catalysts to achieve high conversion efficiency, promising a significant improvement over existing processes. Considering the energy-intensive nature of the water industry, with a 2013 report ranking it as the fourth most energy-intensive sector in the UK, this innovation holds immense potential.

Dr. Onwudili underscores the project's significance in addressing the challenge of managing millions of tonnes of sewage sludge produced annually in the UK. By repurposing this waste into clean water and renewable energy, REvAR aligns with the UK's decarbonisation goals and contributes to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Ofwat's Water Discovery Challenge, which awarded REvAR £427,000, aims to accelerate innovation in the water sector by supporting promising projects. Winners will receive not only financial backing but also non-financial assistance and opportunities to pitch their ideas to potential partners and investors.

This cross-sector initiative reflects Ofwat's commitment to fostering innovation and sustainability within the water industry. By engaging innovators from outside the sector and supporting pioneering ideas, Ofwat aims to equip water companies to tackle future challenges effectively, including meeting sustainability targets and achieving net-zero emissions.


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