A project involving Cranfield University has won a share of £36 million funding aimed at progressing innovations in water science.

The ‘triple carbon reduction’ initiative, led by Anglian Water and delivered together with Cranfield and other partners, secured more than £3.5 million in the inaugural Water Breakthrough Challenge led by economic water regulator Ofwat.

There were a total of nine winners of the challenge, which seeks to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the water sector in England and Wales by funding initiatives that water companies would otherwise be unable to explore.

Cranfield’s winning project aims to achieve a ‘triple carbon’ synergy and contribute towards the UK’s target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030 by using novel technologies to target a step-change reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use in wastewater treatment. It also seeks to provide a new renewable energy source through green hydrogen production.

Professor Tom Stephenson, Professor of Water Sciences at Cranfield University, said: “We are delighted to be contributing technical support on greenhouse gas emissions and the Membrane Aeration Bioreactor (MABR) technology. Cranfield undertook pioneering research on MABRs in the laboratory and at pilot scale, starting in the 1990s. It is terrific to see the technology being deployed at full scale.”

The Water Breakthrough Challenge is the second in a series of competitions funded through Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund that aims to tackle the biggest challenges facing water and wastewater services, including the drive for net zero, reducing leakage, protecting natural ecosystems, and using open data to deliver value.

Entries were encouraged from water companies in England and Wales in partnership with organisations both in and outside the water sector, including universities, retailers, start-ups, and small businesses in sectors like energy, manufacturing, health or financial services.

A total of nine winning projects were chosen to receive funding for their power to deliver wide-scale, transformational change to benefit customers, society and the environment.

The next round of the Water Breakthrough Challenge is now open for entries.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.