Yorkshire Water has begun creating an anaerobic digestion centre of excellence and research hub with the University of York at the company’s wastewater treatment centre at Naburn.

The project will increase digester throughput and boost renewable energy generation while contributing to the regional plans for carbon neutrality.

The £1.2 million project will run for four years to build on previous work the two organisations have collaborated on to improve the efficiency of wastewater treatment since 2016.

Yorkshire plans to scale up the research programme, expand the lab and pilot facilities and build a large-scale test facility, which it will submit to the upcoming round of the Ofwat innovation fund in November. The water company is seeking collaborative input from the sector to grow the project.

James Chong, professor at the University of York’s biology department, said: “This new project represents an important opportunity to develop both our fundamental understanding of the biology underpinning anaerobic digestion and how we translate this knowledge into real world applications, as a critical part of the UK/global drive towards net zero.”

Last month Yorkshire published its net zero routemap to 2030 with regional partnerships at the heart of its decarbonisation plans.

Tom Hall, Yorkshire’s head of bioresources, said the project is vital for ensuring resilience: “We currently treat around 145,000 dry tonnes of sewage sludge each year and this is likely to increase to around 180,000 dry tonnes by 2035 given population growth in our region and new regulations linked to phosphorus removal.”

“This collaboration with the University of York is a vital part of Yorkshire Water’s programme for improving the environment and supporting the company’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions.”

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