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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P001564/1
Title: Experimental Biology and Engineering at the Pilot Scale - Strategic Equipment
Principal Investigator: Davenport, Dr RJ
Other Investigators:
Jarvis, Professor AP Curtis, Professor TP Hofer, Professor W
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Environment Agency (Grouped) Northumbrian Water Group plc UK Water Industry Research Ltd (UKWIR)
Department: Sch of Engineering
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2016 Ends: 30 June 2021 Value (£): 1,196,635
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design of Process systems Synthetic biology
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment Water
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
04 May 2016 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Panel May 16 (2) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This National Facility for Experimental Biology and Engineering at the Pilot Scale aims to fulfill a strategically and critically important research infrastructure gap that prevents the sustainable provision of clean water for all. Our current decentralized wastewater treatment model needs replacing with those that generate energy from waste and recover resources such as nutrients. Wastewater treatment alone accounts for up to 1.0% of total UK and 1.3% of US electricity. It is both capitally and operationally expensive, for which the customer ultimately pays.

In the next century the global water industry must transition to novel low carbon low energy technologies that will recover value from wastewater while cleaning it to a high standard. The rigorous, replicated large-scale experimentation vital to meeting this goal is risky, costly and a significant barrier to innovation. This shared Facility will allow multiple international and national researchers to conduct large-scale experimental investigation of water engineering innovations that are scientifically rigorous and industrially credible. It will set a new global standard for wastewater research and place the UK as an international centre for innovation in wastewater treatment.

Most innovations die on the academic lab benches and are not effectively translated into engineering reality. This is because lab-scale innovations lack credibility with Industry practitioners. Most large-scale pilot studies are un-replicated, lack control and thus the rigor and prestige of the lab. The skepticism of practitioners is well founded. The scale-up of even relatively simple physical-chemical and single species reactors is complex and challenging. In open biological wastewater treatment systems, the composition and dynamics of the quintillion (billion billion billion) bacteria at the real larger scale differ profoundly from the thousand billion bacteria we see at the bench scale.

This National Facility will consist of replicated transportable custom-built modular wastewater treatment plants at 1-12 m^3 scale that includes conventional (activated sludge and trickling filters), new energy generating technologies (microbial electrochemical fuel cells and anaerobic reactors), and wetlands/lagoons that can be used to treat polluted run-off water in rural and city places (e.g. Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems). These resources will help to reduce barriers to innovation by allowing the Water Industry and the next generation of water engineers and managers to accelerate the translation of innovations from research into the real world for the benefit of the economy, the customer and the environment we rely upon.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk