The UK’s largest listed water company United Utilities has signed a decarbonisation deal with green graphene and hydrogen producer Levidian Nanosystems (Levidian) that aims to turn waste biogas into clean hydrogen.

Following its win of £212,000 funding from the UK Government’s department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), for the first the so-called ‘poo-to-power’ project, United Utilities will harness Levidian’s pioneering LOOP technology to decarbonise biogas produced from the treatment of wastewater. 

Read more: UK Govt injects £37m into clean energy tech

Using plasma technology, LOOP breaks down methane into its constituent molecules: carbon and hydrogen.

The carbon is captured and stored by locking it within ‘green’ graphene, whereas the hydrogen can either be utilised or stored. 

Capable of integration into any site that produces methane or uses natural gas, LOOP could help reduce the carbon footprint of the UK’s wastewater industry – an area that produces nearly 500 million m2 of biogas every year from anaerobic digestion. 

Mainly used to generate operational heat and power on site, biogas can also be upgraded to biomethane and either injected back to the grid or liquefied and turned into bio-liquefied natural gas (bio-LNG). 

Phase one of the project will see the companies exploring the potential of the technology by testing it against various biogas samples in a small-scale LOOP system located the Levidian’s Technology Centre in Cambridge. 

“This is an exciting project that will lead the way to utilising LOOP to decarbonise biogas at scale,” commented John Hartley, CEO, Levidian. 

“The consortium has a vast amount of knowledge and experience, which we are leveraging to produce carbon negative hydrogen – there is no better goal to be working on right now.” 

Earlier this year, Hartley spoke to gasworld for an exclusive interview about Levidian’s LOOP technology. 

Read more: LOOP: Turning methane into green graphene

He explained that graphene can be added to a range of different materials to make them last longer, be stronger, and do new things like increase conductivity of certain materials. 

The graphene could even be used to strengthen pipelines that transport hydrogen, increasing the amount of hydrogen that it can transport, in addition to make the pipeline less likely to crack. 

As part of a separate deal signed earlier this year, Levidian agreed to provide the UK’s National Grid with a LOOP device as part of research designed to boost the country’s ability to transport and use hydrogen. 

This focus on sustainability and innovation is echoed by United Utilities, which aims to utilise LOOP to deliver net-zero carbon goals. 

“This project will be the first use of the LOOP in the water sector, and we are keen to explore how the application of this exciting technology can help us to deliver on our net-zero carbon goal,” commented Lisa Mansell, Chief Engineer (innovation) for United Utilities.