University of Leeds wins IChemE prize

12 January 2018

A team of chemical engineers from the University of Leeds have found a novel way to reduce external electricity demand at wastewater treatment plants by 50% and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. The project, NH3 Recovery and H2 Production at Waste Water Treatment Works, saw them win the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Water Special Interest Group’s Young Process Engineer Prize 2017.

Oliver Grasham and Robert White, two young postgraduate process engineers who put forward the Leeds submission, won the top prize of GBP 1000.

The project focuses on the removal of nitrogen from wastewater - a necessary but laborious task for these plants. Nitrogen mostly exists as ammonia in wastewater, and is traditionally removed by pumping air in to bacteria. The process uses around 25% of an entire plant’s energy, and contributes to around 75% of its’ greenhouse gas emissions.

Grasham and White have found a way to utilise sewage sludge, and divert ammonia into the waste streams of a facility before converting it into hydrogen.