School of Engineering


Daniel Leicester

Daniel is one of our current STREAM researchers

To achieve net energy production through the treatment of sludge concentrate

  • STREAM PhD Cohort IX
  • Start Date: September 2017
  • Research Area: Engineering
  • Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Heidrich

With the current increase in energy costs and desire for renewable resources, wastewater treatment plants need an alternative solution to the activated sludge process to reduce their energy requirements. This project will aim to use a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) to recover energy in the form of hydrogen gas from wastewater. The initial investigation is to determine the COD saturation point for hydrogen production at both a lab and semi-pilot scale.

Following this, a pilot-scale MEC will run for 18 months at Northumbrian Water Wastewater Treatment Works. To obtain neutral energy, the use of a high strength waste stream (high COD) will be utilised. This is the sludge centrate, a product of activated sludge de-watering.

Due to the nature of the centrate, there is easier access to the waste stream for testing, along with no requirements for COD removal as it is already recycled back to the top of the treatment system.

Combining the knowledge learnt from the initial finding of the COD saturation point, along with the high strength wastewater, it is hoped that a pilot scale MEC will be ran, achieving net energy production.