Scottish Water innovation centre now running at full capacity
One of the UK water industry's most unique development centres is working at full capacity for the first time since its launch less than three years ago - testing innovative treatment technologies with the aim of making processes greener, cheaper and faster.
The Waste Water Development Centre at Bo’ness is one of two centres in Scotland, established to create dynamic research hubs where new technologies could be developed, tested and commercialised at pace.
The test hall and outside testing area at the centre are now full with five different companies currently using the facility to test possible products of the future.
The centre, currently the only facility of its kind in the UK, is situated next to Bo’ness Waste Water Treatment Works. This means users can test new processes, technologies and equipment under live conditions in a safe and operational scale environment to enhance the marketability of their products. The site is owned by Scottish Water and operated by the utility’s commercial subsidiary, Scottish Water Horizons.
The current users of the facility come from across the UK, including a small Scottish business, a research team from Glasgow Caledonian University as well as international testers from Belgium and the USA.
The trials underway include one which is looking at new way to recover phosphorus from waste and make it into fertiliser and a belt filter designed to remove solids and particles from waste water which could replace the need for large settlement tanks, reducing footprint and costs. Another trial includes an advanced oxidation treatment process to treat organic contaminants in industrial waste water which could find ways to stop harmful organic pollutants getting into the environment.
A major trial by a California-based company, Microvi, is also underway. It is looking at ways to increase the volumes of waste water that can be treated at waste water treatment works by engineering a specific type of bacteria to eat pollutants in the waste water. This process also has the potential to drastically reduce sludge – the residual material produced as a by-product during sewage treatment. For this project, Scottish Water is also providing sampling and testing analysis. The US company has described the test results to date as “promising” and plans to publish the end of trial results this summer.
Clean Water Wave, a Scottish-based social enterprise, are also on site to evaluate their innovative filter system that has the potential to transform polluted ground and surface water into fresh and clean drinking water to support rural and hard to reach communities across the globe. Its ‘Clean Aqua For Everyone’ filter is a low pressure, low energy gravity flow filter which uses Drinking Water Quality Inspectorate (DWQI)-approved Activated Filter Mediaâ, uses no consumables and is expected to remove a high percentage of bacteria, fungal and virus spores.
Dr Stephanie Terreni Brown, Managing Director of Clean Water Wave, said: “Being at the Development Centre at Bo’ness is a unique opportunity for us to really stress test our Clean Aqua For Everyone water treatment system: we’re able to run it in real life conditions, over a long period of time, and analyse for a whole range of parameters that would be difficult for us to mimic in a lab setting.
“The testing site is helping us demonstrate that our blend of DWQI-accredited tech is performing beyond our expectations. It’s also been useful for us to engage with the other companies that are piloting there - we’ve learned a lot from each other - and network with the range of water industry folk that come on site too.”
Some of the trials are being run in partnership with Scottish Water’s Research and Innovation team. The team continually reviews new ideas that can be adopted to benefit the utility’s customers and Scotland’s environment.
George Ponton, Head of Research and Innovation at Scottish Water said: “It is hugely exciting that the Development Centre at Bo’ness is running at full capacity for the first time. The centre only opened in 2016 and it is testament to the reputation of Scottish Water and the pioneering work of Scottish Water Horizons that so many different organisations – large and small and from Scotland, the UK and beyond – have chosen to test their products of the future at the site.
“The range of technologies being tested has the potential to support, and in some cases transform, innovation in the water industry at local, national and international level.
“To meet the future demand of an ever-growing worldwide population it is essential we find ways to increase the capacity and efficiency of our existing assets and look for new and different ways to treat and use water resources. It is exciting to know that processes tested at Bo’ness have the potential to change so much within the water industry for the future benefit of so many, including those in areas where water is scarce.”
The centre provides three individual feeds of waste water from different stages in the treatment process. All discharges from testing areas enter back into the normal treatment process, offering a flexible and low-risk testing environment. There is also the provision for testing of new screening innovations at the inlet to the Treatment Works as well as a small-scale waste water treatment test rig. Users can also benefit from UKAS-accredited sampling and analysis services.
Rebecca Skuce, Project Manager for the Development Centres, said: “Access to operational scale test facilities and cross-sector synergies are key if innovation is to progress at pace to tackle challenges within the water industry.
“Our Development Centres provide users with the opportunity to demonstrate and conduct scenario testing on a range of water-related applications, facilitating proof of concept to prototype development to support market adoption. Already we’re engaging with a number of companies within the drinks, pharmaceutical, bioprocessing, construction and academic communities to foster a culture of knowledge sharing and help bring new products to market.
“The number of exciting trials taking place at our facility is fantastic news in terms of looking for new ways to improve wastewater management and sustainability, working towards enhancing the environment in which we live.
“By working collaboratively with local, national and international partners we’re helping to unlock great potential across the industry to ensure water supply and management is as resilient as it can be. Not only does this contribute to sustainable and economic growth, it also supports Scotland’s ambition of becoming the world’s first Hydro Nation.”
The Bo’ness facility offers a safe place to work in a dynamic environment, supported by modern welfare facilities, a laboratory area and site security. It employs two members of staff. The facility carries a Waste Management Licence which enables users to import waste streams from alternative waste streams for test purposes, providing a flexible testing, development and proving environment.
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