Revolutionising Manchester`s Wastewater: Producing Graphene and Hydrogen Sustainably
Aug 11 2023
In a groundbreaking collaboration between Levidian and United Utilities, the city of Manchester is about to witness a transformative approach to wastewater treatment. This pioneering partnership, funded by the government, represents a first-of-its-kind initiative within the UK water industry. The aim is to harness the potential of sewage biogas to yield sustainable feed sources for graphene and hydrogen production.
At the heart of this innovative endeavor is Levidian's cutting-edge LOOP technology, set to decarbonise the biogas generated during the wastewater treatment process. The outcome of this technology is twofold: the production of hydrogen and graphene. Graphene, a remarkable material known for its strength surpassing that of steel and its thinness compared to paper, was first discovered in Manchester.
The implementation of the LOOP100 system, designed by Cambridge-based climate tech company Levidian, will take place at United Utilities' Manchester Bioresources Centre in Davyhulme. Following a successful feasibility study, this trial will mark the first demonstration of the LOOP100 system. The project has received substantial funding amounting to £3 million from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme competition. It will involve more than 1,000 hours of in-situ testing, verifying the efficient production of separated hydrogen and graphene.
The collaborative effort involves Liverpool John Moores University, which will assess the potential applications of hydrogen within the Liverpool City Region. Additionally, Jacobs will contribute its expertise in carbon lifecycle assessment, social value analysis, and commercialisation. The applications of graphene produced by the LOOP technology will be jointly developed by Levidian and United Utilities, with a particular focus on reducing the carbon footprint of concrete used in United Utilities' capital program.
Although the initial LOOP100 demonstrator can process approximately 15m3 of biogas per hour, this trial serves as a stepping stone towards larger installations, allowing United Utilities to produce hydrogen sustainably from biogas.
This endeavor comes at a crucial juncture for the UK's journey towards achieving net-zero emissions. By bringing global trailblazing technology to the North West, the partnership supports Manchester's ambitious goal of becoming a zero-carbon city by 2038 and facilitates the water industry's decarbonisation journey.
John Hartley, CEO of Levidian, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "There's nowhere better to embark on the next phase of Levidian and United Utilities' partnership than in Manchester, where graphene was discovered. We are excited about the potential of this collaboration and appreciate the Government's support for the next phase of its development."
Lisa Mansell, Chief Engineer (Innovation) for United Utilities, echoed the sentiment, saying, "This is an incredibly exciting development. As well as enabling us to capture carbon from our biogas production, it will also recover two high-value products – hydrogen and graphene - which is a positive step forward in reaching carbon reduction targets for both United Utilities and the wider North West."
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