R&D in Water Industry - Innovations for a Better Future

R&D in Water Industry - Innovations for a Better Future

Posted 20 December, 2021 at 15:45

Author Ronnie Findlay on behalf of Everything Digital

Climate change and population growth are two of the biggest problems the world is facing today. And governments and businesses everywhere are struggling to meet the challenges and needs of this growing population and reverse the ill effects of climate change. One of the areas worst-affected by climate change and increasing population is the water industry. With an unprecedented rise in demand for clean and healthy drinking water, water companies desperately need innovative solutions that can help them meet this demand. Wastewater treatment facilities are also in a race against time to find sustainable and efficient solutions that can make sewage water free of pollutants before releasing it into the environment. So how are scientists and engineers trying to tackle these problems? The answer is through research and innovation. R&D is playing a crucial role in the development of new and innovative methods, products and processes that can help us sustain without compromising our safety and health. 

Innovation in the water industry is not easy to achieve. From improving the quality of and access to clean drinking water to wastewater treatment, businesses often have to navigate a difficult process of achieving innovation and taking it through to implementation and commercialisation. However, with the advancement in technology, it has become relatively straightforward for water companies to develop innovative water treatment and filtration processes and make them viable for commercial use. In recent years, the majority of R&D in the water industry has focused on developing and using innovative technology to get desirable results. 


Nanotechnology, or the use of particles smaller than 100 nanometres, is not a new concept. However, its use and efficiency in purifying water are only recently being explored. Scientists are using nanoparticles made from a highly absorbent material like carbon to absorb the smallest of impurities and pollutants from water and make it suitable for drinking. The biggest challenge of implementing this technology on a wide scale is the cost of these nanoparticles. Research is currently ongoing to develop viable and affordable nanoparticles for water purification.


Another concept that has been around for some time is bioaugmentation. It is a popular and efficient way of treating wastewater and purifying water with the help of biological substances like microorganisms. The process includes introducing a safe mix of microorganisms to untreated water and allowing them to degrade oils, carbon substrates and other pollutants and subsequently removing them. An advantage of using bioaugmentation for purifying water is that the microorganisms often release healthy substances like nutrients as by-products, which make water healthy and more suitable for drinking. However, there are some downsides to using bioaugmentation. It cannot be used on its own as a purification method as the water will still need treatment to remove the microorganisms, which includes further processing and additional costs.

Large Scale Water Treatment

Large wastewater treatment facilities face many challenges like high energy usage, increased costs, and carbon footprint. Fortunately, many water treatment plants are conducting vital R&D to develop innovative technology and solutions that are more cost and energy-efficient and environment-friendly. An example of one such technology is Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR). The conventional systems of using Constructed Wetlands or Conventional Activated Sludge (CAS) system for wastewater treatment occupy large areas and are often not adjustable, upgradable, or harmless to nature. But many facilities are making plans to effectively use newer technology like MABR to make wastewater treatment more efficient and kinder to the planet. R&D is also ongoing to make other technologies such as Sequence Batch Reactors (SBR), Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge systems (IFAS), and Moving Bed Biofilm Reactors (MBBR) more commercially viable. 

R&D Tax Credits for Innovation in the Water Industry

Since the water industry is a vital sector of our economy, it is only fitting that businesses that conduct R&D to achieve innovation in this area are given the funding they need to get the desirable results. That’s where R&D Tax Credits come into the picture! Nearly all innovation that involves overcoming a scientific or technological difficulty is eligible to receive R&D Tax Credits from the HMRC. You can find out more about some of the eligible areas and get in touch with our team of experts on 0800 035 2510 to start your claim! 

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