Northumbrian Water has secured £225k worth of funding from the Innovation in Water Challenge for a sector-first project which captures ammonia turning it into green hydrogen fuel.

The water company managed to secure the financial backing following a successful bid into the OFWAT Innovation Fund, where only 11 out of 61 bids were granted funding.


A second sector-wide bid, jointly written by NWG and Southern Water, also won one of the prestigious prizes, with £250k granted to create an industry hub for innovation.


The Organics Ammonia Recovery project, which is a first for the industry, will recover ammonia in wastewater and directly convert it into green hydrogen for beneficial use in the emerging hydrogen economy powering fuel cell powered buses, HGVs and trains.


Ammonia is a widely used building block for valuable chemicals, for example, fertiliser, or a used as a precursor to green energy.


By converting the recovered ammonia into hydrogen fuel, this will contribute to the Government’s green gas and renewable fuel agenda and accelerate the water sector’s journey to carbon zero.


The process, which will use new technology to recover the ammonia from wastewater, will also help to accelerate the water company towards its ambitious net zero targets.


Northumbrian Water, are leading the project, and are also working with partners at Organics Group,  Anglian Water Services Ltd, Cranfield University, Warwick University, and Wood Group UK Ltd in order to progress it.


Angela MacOscar, Head of Innovation at Northumbrian Water Group, said: “This project will drive us towards our net zero targets, and that is why I am delighted that we have been granted this funding by OFWAT.


“There were so many fantastic bids in the Innovation in Water Challenge, but I am so glad that OFWAT have seen the value of what we are hoping to achieve.


“Not only will this project help us to achieve zero emissions, but it will also improve ecological status of our rivers and test whether we can not only treat waste but recover it to add value.


“As an industry-first, we can’t wait to get our teeth into the Organics Ammonia Recovery project.”


As well as this, the water company was also part of a second sector-wide win at the Innovation in Water Challenge for a project called the UK Water Sector Innovation Centre of Excellence.


This project will see the creation of a sector-wide hub which will aim to drive collaboration and innovation from business to business, for the benefit of customers.


The CoE has been developed by the 17 UK water companies and is backed by the CEOs of these organisations.


Angela added: “We are committed to being leaders in innovation and delighted that Northumbrian Water was key to securing two of the 11 bids.


“The Centre of Excellence will see us collaborating in a way we haven’t been able to before, and the past year has shown us how important working together really is.


“This is a really exciting development for our sector, and I am proud that we are able to be part of it.”


Run by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges, and supported by Arup and Isle Utilities, the Innovation in Water Challenge was the first competition this year within Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund. It is part of the regulator’s goal to create an innovative and collaborative water sector that meets the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment in the years to come.