Coventry University and Severn Trent in partnership to convert sewage waste into hydrogen12 March 2021

Researchers from Coventry University are collaborating with Severn Trent and the Organics Group to turn sewage waste into a clean fuel for tankers and other vehicles.

This project will look to capture waste ammonia from Severn Trent’s sewage treatment facility and turn it into a valuable green fuel.

Severn Trent currently destroys the waste ammonia present in sewage due to its toxic properties but this programme of work could see it captured and converted into hydrogen. The benefits of the process are twofold – firstly Severn Trent will gain a more efficient method of processing ammonia and secondly hydrogen will be produced as a clean fuel.

If trials are successful, Severn Trent has the potential to recover up to 10,000 tonnes of green ammonia from its wastewater treatment plants, which could be converted into 450 tonnes of hydrogen.

The Organics Group will be responsible for developing an ammonia-stripping unit, recovering the chemical from the sewage waste at Severn Trent’s facility. Coventry University researchers will then seek to convert this into hydrogen by forming a purified electrolyte from the ammonia, which could be processed to create nitrogen and hydrogen gas.

John Graves, associate professor at the Institute for Future Transport and Cities, is leading the university’s contribution. He said: “We are delighted to be part of this ground-breaking initiative with Severn Trent and Organics Group. The project will enable us to demonstrate that ammonia, which to date has had to be regarded as a waste product, could be processed in a more environmentally-friendly manner with the benefit of producing hydrogen, which has a number of useful applications. These include its use as a potential fuel for heavy vehicles that may not be suited to battery electrification.”

This project forms part of REWAISE, a €15m initiative funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, a consortium of 24 organisations lead REWAISE, providing expertise across the water management and academic sectors with the aim of developing a carbon-neutral water cycle. Both the Institute for Future Transport and Cities (IFTC) and the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) are contributing partners in the consortium.

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Related Companies
Coventry University
Severn Trent

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