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New R&D will stimulate water industry innovation


Grants totalling over £2.5 million have been awarded for seven major collaborative research and development projects that aim to deliver innovation to help safeguard future water supplies.

Funded jointly by the Technology Strategy Board, Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the projects will address overseas and UK water security challenges. The total cost of the projects, including contributions from the participating companies, is in excess of £5.6 million.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said:
“The sustainable and secure supply of water is a major challenge for modern societies. This presents innovation opportunities in water for UK businesses, particularly in the export market and for companies in the supply chain. The research and development we are funding will help UK companies improve their access to global water markets.”

The R&D activity to be supported by the Government funding aims to find innovative solutions to help secure our planet’s future water supply, while at the same time turning this challenge into a market opportunity by developing profitable new ways to use our current water sources more effectively.

All of the companies have been set the tough challenge of creating a new technology or process that will either save or recycle 1,000 million litres per day worth of water – equivalent to roughly the same volume of water it would take to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The collaborative projects will be led by: Arvia Technology Ltd, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, Cambrensis Ltd, Halcrow Group Ltd, KEE Process Ltd, Quest UAV and Watershed Associates Ltd.

The MICROCAT – Microwave assisted catalytic treatment of agricultural wastewater – project led by KEE Process Ltd (Aylesbury) aims to develop step-change technology for the treatment and recycling of agricultural and industrial wastewaters which offers a potential global saving of up to 17000ML/day of blue water.

The Smart Leakage Detection Pipes project, led by Watershed Associates (Leighton Buzzard), will develop an easy to install leak detection system for existing and new water pipes. Using self-contained sensor nodes on the outside of the pipe, the system will detect changes in pressure and vibration to indicate the formation of leaks and their location as they occur.

Arvia Technology (Cheshire) has developed award-winning technology for the destruction of organics in water and wastewater using a patented adsorbent material. Their project will investigate the properties of the process for the treatment and reuse of industrial process water, in order to prove the technology at a large scale.
The SAVE Water project led by Balfour Beatty (Sheffield) will develop the first in-pipe assessment vehicle which will work in live conditions, delivering a full sensing package of optical and acoustic inspection while also carrying out a complete structural assessment of the pipe material and any associated linings.

The consortium led by Cambrensis (Shrewsbury) plans to apply and test an intelligent ICT system for “real time abstraction & discharge monitoring”. This will create a flexible system to optimise water resource management and replace the current outdated licensing system.
Halcrow’s (Swindon) HYDRA project will develop a software platform for water resource management, an open and flexible system where data management, display, user interaction, and solution engines will be standardised and shared for advanced water resource planning. HYDRA will enable vast gains in water security to be achieved by integrating management and strategic planning.

The “QuestEarthWater” project, led by Quest UAV (Northumberland), will develop a new integrated unmanned aerial vehicle for assessing hidden water supplies. The ‘drone’ will deploy imaging sensors that can capture very detailed pictures of the landscape so that hidden water resources can be quantified.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via research Councils UK.

2. The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit .

3. The vision of the Technology Strategy Board is for the UK to be a global leader in innovation and a magnet for innovative businesses, where technology is applied rapidly, effectively and sustainably to create wealth and enhance quality of life. Our approach to accelerating the pace of innovation in the UK is captured in our strategy document, Concept to Commercialisation, published in May 2011. This builds on our first strategy, developed in 2008, and sets out new directions, taking into account the challenges and exciting opportunities that lie ahead. To see the new strategy please visit: Concept to Commercialisation.

4. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a government department in the UK that makes policy and legislation. Defra works with others to deliver policies in areas such as:

• the natural environment, biodiversity, plants and animals
• sustainable development and the green economy
• food, farming and fisheries
• animal health and welfare
• environmental protection and pollution control
• rural communities and issues.

6. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world’s most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around £300 million a year from the government’s science budget, which it uses to fund research and training in universities and its own research centres.

7. For information about the Water Security competition for feasibility and collaborative research and development funding.

8. The offer of funding is conditional and remains subject to the successful completion of Technology Strategy Board compliance and financial review processes, and the processes of the funding partners.


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