A Glasgow Caledonian University researcher is part of a group that has won funding from Ofwat’s £40million innovation competition.

Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge is a competition that aims to encourage initiatives to tackle challenges facing the water sector, such as achieving net zero, protecting natural ecosystems and reducing leakage.

Dr Ania Escudero is working with United Utilities to improve nature-based solutions. The project was awarded more than £6million. Along with partners across the water industry, including Mott MacDonald and Jacobs, she has helped develop a programme of work that brings together cross-sector expertise and leadership to collaboratively create and test new solutions. The aim is to recover resources from wastewater and offer an exciting prospect for water companies to reduce reliance on unsustainable materials and open up new materials.

She said: “The production and marketing of biopolymers from wastewater and sludge opens up opportunities to realise several routes to circular economies. It also supports our industry in achieving net zero by 2030 by reducing our needs for manufactured polymers which we use in daily operational activities. Biopolymers are produced naturally by bacteria in wastewater treatment. If this material can be extracted, it could be used instead of procuring chemicals across multiple industries.”

Joining Ania on the project from Glasgow Caledonian are Dr Colin Hunter, Dr Fiona Henderson, Dr Karin Helwig, Dr Joanne Roberts and Professor Ole Pahl.