Welsh Water Launches Biogas Waste Project In Wales

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Welsh Water, in collaboration with technology company Costain and local councils around south Wales, is launching a project that will see biogas waste converted into zero-emission hydrogen fuel, fuel that can then be used to power zero-emission vehicles.


As explained by the BBC, sewage sludge is created as a byproduct of wastewater treatment, a byproduct that is rich in microbes and which can be used as biogas fuel, with this latest project having just been awarded £60,000 by Innovate UK.


According to Welsh Water, the majority of the biogas produced will be used to produce clean energy, but the hope is for the technology to also be used to power its entire fleet of vehicles, saving approximately 9,000 tonnes of carbon from being released into the environment.


Tony Harrington, director of environment with the water supplier, said: “This sewage to hydrogen fuel project is at the forefront of the innovation we need to pursue to meet these ambitious targets – and the funding from Innovate UK will help us on the way to decarbonising our fleet of tankers.”


Other projects that Welsh Water is involved in include a five megawatt connection from Lamby Way solar farm to Cardiff Wastewater Treatment Works, as well as three solar projects in Cwmbran, Swansea and Pembrokeshire. It’s expected that these installations will save 311 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, while powering 300 homes.


The overall goal for Welsh Water now is to generate all of its own energy by the year 2050, serving over three million people across Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside and Cheshire.


What is biogas?


Biogas is an environmentally friendly renewable energy source, which is produced when organic matter is broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen, a process known as anaerobic digestion.


A wide range of different waste material can be broken down to create biogas, ranging from sewage and food waste to plant material, animal manure and municipal rubbish.


Biogas itself is made of methane and carbon dioxide, and it can be used as a replacement for natural gas. Once it’s been treated and upgraded, it is known as biomethane and can be used for applications such as cooking and heating. It can also be used as a vehicle fuel if it is compressed.


It’s known as an eco-friendly energy source because it helps to reduce the amount of methane gas released into the environment, as well as driving down the reliance on fossil fuels to meet energy demand around the world.


Flemish chemist Jan Baptiste van Helmon was among the first to realise that combustible gases were produced by decomposing organic matter, with Humphrey Davey and John Dalton later clarifying that this gas was, in fact, methane. At the turn of the century, the UK started using anaerobic digestion to create biogas, which was used to light street lamps.


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