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Reducing water consumption

Catalysis is essential for new technology being developed to reduce our water consumption by treating and recycling greywater.

Most of the water used in homes is discharged as greywater from showers, sinks and washing machines. If treated to remove contaminants and bacteria it could be reused for some applications that currently use drinking water. Our project aims to engineer and develop a novel water disinfection system that enables around 40% of water from the average household to be recycled and reused, instead of discharging it to sewers.

This project involves a number of partners. We are developing the catalysts to generate hydrogen peroxide to disinfect the greywater, an engineering company is investigating the design of the greywater system and building companies are looking at how we can implement this technology into homes and businesses in conjunction with utility companies.

We have been developing a greener, more efficient process for synthesising hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) using a heterogeneous catalyst at high pressures and low temperatures for commercial applications. As hydrogen peroxide is a potent, environmentally safe biocidal agent we have been adapting this technology for in situ generation of H2O2 which is used to sterilise bacteria-rich greywater. The technology can also be used to provide clean water in a water crisis (eg tsunami, floods, cholera), when access to bacteria free water is restricted. As the greywater system would be used in a domestic setting, novel catalysts have to be developed that can operate at room temperature and much lower pressures.

We have successfully synthesised catalyst that are based around supported gold and palladium nanoparticles that can produce H2O2 under these conditions. A lab scale reactor, which mimics the envisaged final system has also been developed. Work is ongoing to scale this up and integrate the technology into a domestic water treatment unit.

People

  • Prof Graham Hutchings FRS
  • Dr Jonathan Bartley
  • Dr Jennifer Edwards

Funding

  • Technology Strategy Board (TSB)

Partners

  • Johnson Matthey
  • C Tech Innovation LTD

Links