What if the Hunter’s treated wastewater could be used to heat homes and office buildings? This and other concepts could become reality thanks to a new research partnership between Hunter Water and the University of Newcastle.
The collaboration between the University’s Professor Geoffrey Evans and colleagues at Hunter Water is one of a range of projects under a new Memorandum of Understanding.
The MOU signed by the University’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) provides opportunities to expand the University’s technical, social and environmental expertise in water management alongside Hunter Water.
NIER Director Dr Alan Broadfoot said the MOU would deliver a significant research program and substantial benefits to the Hunter and beyond.
“The MOU builds on previous collaborations and provides a framework for Hunter Water and NIER to conduct research on sustainable urban water management,” Dr Broadfoot said.
“Together, we will focus on the areas of water quality, security of supply, and local and global environmental impacts, and increase the understanding of the social impact of urban water management.”
Hunter Water’s General Manager System, Strategy and Sustainability, Peter Dennis, said the MOU would have broad-reaching implications.
“Hunter Water has a history of leading the urban water management industry, and this partnership could deliver innovative urban water management solutions to ensure the sustainability of the lower Hunter’s water services,” Mr Dennis said.
“In time we will undertake large-scale projects involving other Australian and international water utilities and research organisations.”
Professor Evans, a chemical engineer, is working with Hunter Water to investigate the potential for heat to be harvested from the region’s wastewater system for use in residential and commercial buildings and sewerage treatment facilities.
Professor Evans has also participated in a project to better understand how Hunter Water uses energy in its wastewater treatment works.
To address this, Professor Evans developed a new operating model that has delivered substantial reductions in power consumption without any loss in operational performance.
The new model is being applied across all Hunter Water treatment plants.