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New project METREAU on track to revolutionise wastewater treatment

Published on: 17 May 2024

Newcastle University will be part of a new project led by Northumbrian Water which aims to reduce energy needs and carbon footprint in the treatment of wastewater.

The University will be involved in the METREAU project, which will see for the first time the use of microbial electrochemical technologies at a commercial scale for wastewater treatment.

Led by Northumbrian Water, the project will be carried out with partners at Newcastle University, METZero Technologies (a Newcastle University spin out), Isle Utilities, Yorkshire Water, Thames Water and Irish Water.

The project is part of Ofwat’s Innovation Fund, which announced 17 winners from the fourth Water Breakthrough Challenge, a £40 million competition that invited solutions with the potential to deliver wide-scale, transformational change benefitting customers, society and the environment.

Dr Elizabeth Heidrich, CEng. MIWater - Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering Newcastle University and Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of METzero Technologies, said: “This has been a long journey from very early exploratory lab studies creating new knowledge, to now designing and implementing real world solutions. We get the amazing naturally occurring bugs in wastewater to generate electrical current, using this to treat the wastewater and recover resources. Ultimately we want to turn wastewater treatment facilities into resource recovery hubs. Our long standing collaboration with NWL has made all of this is possible, we are very excited about this next chapter.”

Dr Pavlina Theodosiou, CEO and co-founder of METzero Technologies, added: “This is a pivotal moment for METzero Technologies and I am incredibly excited about our key role in the METREAU project. We're eager to implement microbial electrochemical technologies on a commercial scale, contributing in decarbonising wastewater treatment. This collaborative project is a testament to our innovative spirit and commitment to sustainability.”

The Water Breakthrough Challenge is part of a series of competitions from Ofwat, run by Challenge Works with Arup and Isle Utilities, designed to drive innovation and collaboration in the sector to benefit individuals, society and the environment. 

Press release adapted with thanks from Ofwat. 

METzero Technologies team
Pictured (l-r) Chris Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer of METzero Technologies, Dr Elizabeth Heidrich and Dr Pavlina Theodosiou

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