Thames Water reveal peak-time innovation in sewage sludge to green electricity project

Energy & Climate Change, Processed Water, Waste & Resources

Scientists from Thames Water have revealed that they have succesfully tapped into 'poo power' to turn sewage into green electricity at peak times.

The culmination of a four-year project with sustainability experts from the University of Surrey, the initiative to boost the production of biogas from sewage has been successfully trialled at Thames Water’s Beddington sewage works in Croydon – where it is now standard practice.

The above uses an innovative approach in which sewage sludge is fed into special 'digesters' – where the biogas-producing process of anaerobic digestion takes place – on a specific regime, rather than at regular intervals as done historically, to increase the biogas production rate between the peak 'red period' (4pm-7pm).

The above is the time period when households' tend to draw the most electricity using appliances such as ovens, dishwashers and kettles, and is therefore when electricity prices are higher than at other times.

Mauro Lafratta, of Thames Water’s energy performance and change team, who led the project while an engineering student, said: “Our research proved we can produce more biogas in peak periods to generate electricity when the grid’s prices and carbon emissions peak. This solution can significantly reduce our operating costs, and help the country achieve carbon neutrality.

"This means better financial and operational resilience, better environmental protection and a better service for our customers.”

Dr Jacquetta Lee, of the University of Surrey, added: “Thanks to a long-standing collaboration between the University of Surrey and Thames Water, this research has been a great example of multi-disciplinary research, with immediate impact for Thames Water’s sludge management practices."

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