Innovations to improve efficiency, stop leaks and increase carbon sequestration win in Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge

Innovative projects that reduce spills, improve household water efficiency, and convert carbon dioxide into useful products like paint and fertilizer were named winners of the second Water Breakthrough Challenge, Transform Stream.

Ofwat, the water regulator for England and Wales, has funded the winners of the second Water Breakthrough Challenge – part of a series of innovation competitions made possible by its £200m Water Innovation Fund and run by Nesta Challenges, Arup and Isle Utilities. The fund helps stimulate new innovations, enabling the water sector to better respond to the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment.

Winners of the Transform Stream of the Water Breakthrough Challenge – which focuses on large-scale, long-term, and disruptive innovation – include:

  • National Leakage Research and Test Center (NLRTC) – Northumbrian Water will set up a national center to test new leak control products in ‘real world’ conditions, improving safety and effectiveness so they can be rolled out faster and on a larger scale .
  • Managing Background Leakage – A group of water companies led by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water will help develop new technology to detect the many leaks currently missed by existing investigation methods through forensic investigations in 25 areas, including flow, pressure – and temperature sensors are used intensively have never been undertaken.
  • Enabling Smart Water Communities – A group of water utilities, universities, homebuilders and local authorities will work together to ensure the 4 million new homes planned by 2041 can be sustainably integrated into the water system, ensuring new communities continue to have access to limited Water resources, wastewater management and flood risks are reduced.
  • CECCU (CHP Exhaust Carbon Capture and Utilization) – a project to convert captured carbon into useful products such as paint and fertilizer, save 5 million tons of CO2 per year and implement the combined heat and power (CHP) process The energy generated from the heat as a by-product is collected and used – climate-neutral.

John Russell, Senior Director, Strategy, Finance and Infrastructure at Ofwat called:

“It is crucial for the water sector to come up with new, innovative ideas to meet the challenges the sector – and society – are facing. Winners announced today will help generate ideas to save more water, convert captured carbon into useful products and – ultimately – make the sector more sustainable.

“Ofwat’s Innovation Fund, which provides the prize money for these competitions, aims to help stimulate new and bold initiatives from water companies working in partnership with universities, charities, engineering firms and technology companies. We can learn a lot from other sectors and the winners of this round of the competition show how much can be achieved when we work together.”

Sharon Darcy, Director, Sustainability First and Chair of the Transform Stream Jury for the second Water Breakthrough Challenge called:

“Although many will see net zero as a problem for energy suppliers, the water sector consumes 2-3% of the electricity generated in the UK. Novel solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as CECCU, and mainstreaming approaches, such as Enabling Smart Water Communities, that help manage and reduce water demand can go a long way in helping the sector meet its net-zero goals for the benefit of all reached.”

To learn more about the Water Breakthrough Challenge winners and Ofwat’s Innovation Fund, visit

Ofwat recently opened a consultation on the future direction of the Water Breakthrough Challenges and the Water Innovation Fund. There are two ways to comment, through the online reply form or by emailing comments to[email protected]The six week consultation closes on 17 May 2022 – full consultation details can be found at Innovations to improve efficiency, stop leaks and increase carbon sequestration win in Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge

Fry Electronics Team

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