Cleaning up carbon from Manchester’s wastewater

Sewage biogas produced in Manchester is all set to become a sustainable feed source for graphene and hydrogen production thanks to a pioneering partnership between Levidian and United Utilities. 

The Government-funded collaboration is a first for the UK water industry and will see Levidian’s innovative LOOP technology used to decarbonise biogas created within the wastewater treatment process. As well as producing hydrogen, the technology will also produce graphene, a highly useful material which was first discovered in Manchester and is stronger than steel and thinner than paper.

The LOOP100 system, developed by Cambridge climate tech company Levidian, will be installed at United Utilities’ Manchester Bioresources Centre at Davyhulme and used to decarbonise biogas produced at the facility. This trial follows a successful feasibility study and will serve as the first demonstration of a LOOP100. The project has been awarded £3m of funding from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme competition and will deliver more than 1,000 hours of in-situ testing, verifying the production of separated hydrogen and graphene.

As part of the project, Liverpool John Moores University will assess the potential usage of hydrogen within the Liverpool City Region and Jacobs will provide expertise in carbon lifecycle assessment, social value analysis, and commercialisation. Applications of the graphene produced by the LOOP will be developed jointly by Levidian and United Utilities with a particular focus on reducing the carbon footprint of concrete used within United Utilities’ capital programme.

While the demonstrator LOOP100 will be capable of processing around 15m3 of biogas per hour, this demonstration is intended to be a stepping stone toward larger installations, enabling United Utilities to sustainably produce hydrogen from biogas.

This comes at a crucial time for the UK on its journey to net zero. The partnership brings global trailblazing tech to the North West, supporting both the Manchester’s ambitious goals of becoming a zero-carbon city by 2038 and the decarbonisation journey of the water industry.

Levidian’s CEO, John Hartley, said: “There’s nowhere better to be embarking on the next phase of Levidian and United Utilities’ partnership than in Manchester, where graphene was discovered. We are excited about the potential of this collaboration and appreciate the Government’s support for the next phase of its development.”

Lisa Mansell, Chief Engineer (Innovation) for United Utilities, added: “This is an incredibly exciting development. As well as enabling use to capture carbon from our biogas production, it will also recover two high value products – hydrogen and graphene – which is a positive step forward in reaching carbon reduction targets for both United Utilities and the wider North West.”

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