University of Leeds team wins Water SIG prize

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

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A TEAM from the University of Leeds has won the inaugural Young Process Engineer Prize set up by IChemE’s Water Special Interest Group (SIG) to mark its 30th anniversary.

The prize, which is sponsored by Arup, is aimed at young chemical engineers to interest them in the water industry. Oliver Grasham and Robert White, postgraduate process engineers at Leeds, were selected as winners for their project to remove nitrogen from wastewater. They win £1,000 (US$1,300).

Nitrogen exists as ammonia in wastewater, which is usually removed by the addition of air to facilitate the use of ammonia by bacteria. The process uses 25% of a water treatment works’ energy and produces 75% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Grasham and White instead developed a novel process to decompose the ammonia into hydrogen, which can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity.

The runners up are Aman Majid from the University of Oxford and Olivia Bailey from the University of Bath. Majid’s Smart Water project introduced artificial intelligence to wastewater treatment, while Bailey’s project, Sewer Systems of the Future, looked at designing sewer systems to conserve water and improve efficiency.

Entrants submitted a video of their work, and the videos from the winners and the runners up can now be viewed on IChemE’s YouTube channel.

“These three entries were excellent videos, describing projects where the aims were very credible, and fully in-line with the aims and themes of the competition. The judges noted that these promising projects were at an early stage, and have invited the winners to update us in due course as to the development and outcome of their research,” said Chris Short, chair of the Water SIG, adding: “The competition received great interest, a clear sign that chemical engineering matters in the water sector.”

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

Senior reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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