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Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund | Recycling Energy Hidden in Existing Wastewater Treatment Systems

03 March 2023

Trinity College Dublin's School of Engineering has announced a new research project aimed at recycling energy hidden in existing wastewater treatment systems. With funding of €530k from the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund, the project will be led by a team of experts including Prof. Aonghus McNabola, Prof. Laurence Gill, and Dr. Brian Considine from Trinity Engineering’s Department of Civil Structural & Environmental Engineering; Prof. Paul Coughlan from Trinity Business School; and Prof. Michael Morris from TCD AMBER.

The project addresses the problem of energy costs associated with the use of hot water in commercial food services or industrial food processing. Hot water is used in pubs, restaurants, and food processing for cooking, cleaning, sterilisation, and other processes. However, the majority of the energy embedded in this water at temperatures ranging from 60-90° Celsius is still present in the wastewater sent to the sewer system at temperatures of 30-50° Celsius. This is a significant waste of energy that could be recycled using wastewater heat recovery systems (WWHR).

The WWHR involves the use of heat exchangers in sewer systems to recover heat discharged from hot-water activities. This project incorporates the development of WWHR systems integrated into existing wastewater treatment infrastructure such as grease traps and dissolved air flotation (DAF) tanks, using advanced materials and building on existing TRL4 and 5 prototypes, and extensive industry engagement.

The project results will benefit hoteliers, restaurant owners, cafes, and industrial food processing plants by delivering energy savings to hot-water intensive businesses with payback periods of less than two years with the support of the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. The project is expected to have a significant impact on reducing energy costs and improving energy efficiency in the food service industry while also contributing to a more sustainable future.


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