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Cleaning water with mud

Clay minerals are abundant and low-cost. Their reaction with oxygen has the potential to reduce the energy and chemical requirements of water treatment.

Project leader

Dr Anke Neumann



Project staff

Dr Khalid Zakaria


EPSRC - Bright Ideas Award


Northumbria Water Ltd

Scottish Water


We take for granted the high quality drinking water that comes to our homes. We expect the wastewater we produce to be treated to a level where it is safe for releasing into the environment.

Water treatment involves huge inputs of chemicals and energy. These inputs make organic contaminants harmless. They destroy harmful microbes. But these inputs make water treatment a costly process, in both financial and environmental terms.

In this project, we explored whether clay minerals can sustainably generate reactive oxidising species. Our results suggested that this was the case. Thus, it could provide advanced oxidation in water treatment.

The magnitude of the electrical current generated correlates with the organic loading. Toxic compounds inhibit the signal. The sensor will monitor organic load and toxicity levels in real-time on wastewater influent samples.

We will use samples from a real-world wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). We will collect long-term monitoring data over two years. We will use the data to inform design and cohesion of a combined sensor package. This will propel the technology towards commercial realisation.