Origin Aqua emerges as the winner of the top prize in the OFWAT Water Discovery Challenge

UK-based company Origin Aqua, specializing in water technology and filtration, has been honored with a prestigious award at the World Water Tech Innovation Summit for its innovative one-step water treatment process.

This process has the potential to significantly reduce and potentially replace chlorine in tap water.

Developed in collaboration with researchers from Cardiff University, Origin Aqua’s FreeOxTM effectively eliminates chlorine-resistant viruses and bacteria.

This technology addresses various issues associated with chlorine, such as resilient pathogens, unpleasant taste and odor, high energy consumption comparable to steel, and the generation of over 600 byproducts that can be harmful to human health, skin microbiome, and the environment.

Unlike concentrated chlorine, which poses risks in terms of transportation, handling, and storage for water companies, the FreeOxTM oxidation process offers a more cost-effective, sustainable, and healthier alternative. It consumes three times less energy than current technologies, reduces chlorine usage significantly, and neutralizes chemicals like synthetic hormones.

Originally featured in Nature Catalysis in 2022, this new method has demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in killing bacteria. It is 10,000,000 times more efficient than industrial hydrogen peroxide and over 100,000,000 times more effective than chlorination under similar conditions. Additionally, it outperforms other compounds or technologies like UV or Zone in terms of speed and efficacy in eradicating bacteria and viruses.

As one of the ten winners of the Water Discovery Challenge organized by Challenge Works, the Water Services Regulation Authority Ofwat, Arup, and Isle Utilities, the project team will be granted £450k to advance the technology to the pilot stage, particularly for potable water treatment.

Andrew Cox, Chief Technology Officer and Founder of Origin Aqua, explained: “In contrast to energy-intensive chlorine production, FreeOxTM can be produced on-site, eliminating the need for chemical dosing and reducing energy consumption. It only produces water and oxygen byproducts, ensuring there is no chemical taste or odor. This technology signifies the future of water treatment.“We are enthusiastic about the development, scaling up, and commercialization of this revolutionary technology. It has the potential to revolutionize water treatment in both developed and developing countries.”

In the past 24 months, the Origin Aqua team has successfully concluded a £380k Innovate UK project focused on bathing waters, achieving a 300-fold increase in flowrates.

Professor Graham Hutchings, Regius Professor of Chemistry at Cardiff University’s School of Chemistry, stated: “Chlorination, an energy-intensive and outdated water treatment method, is ineffective against a growing number of man-made contaminants. It is also inefficient, with as much as 80% of chlorine wasted during disinfection due to substances like ammonia and manganese commonly present in our ground and surface waters.


“As a result, conventional treatment facilities must combine chlorine with additional processes like UV, Ozone, or membrane filtration, adding to the expense, complexity, and carbon footprint of water treatment. FreeOxTM streamlines these treatment stages with a single-step process utilizing a catalyst composed of gold and palladium along with hydrogen gas to efficiently oxidize common contaminants without relying on chlorine. In this process, hydrogen peroxide (a widely used disinfectant typically manufactured on an industrial scale) is generated from the water itself. Essentially, water is used to disinfect water.”

Under the £450k Ofwat Breakthrough Challenge finalist award, the team has obtained a pilot project to advance drinking water technology with a £100k loan from Trial Reservoir and backing from Welsh Water. They are now looking for industrial and technical investment partners to help scale up the technology for a pilot trial phase.

The Water Discovery Challenge team brought together expertise from CEO Andrew Cox, Dr Jack Lee, and Dr Josh Stevens of Origin Aqua, along with Professor Hutchings, Dr Jennifer Edwards, and Dr Richard Lewis from Cardiff University’s School of Chemistry, and Professor Jean-Yves Maillard from Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

source: Origin Aqua

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