Water Industry Journal

Making raw surface water drinkable: innovation for Scotland’s peaty water

AQR has succeeded where others have failed by treating peaty Highland water to a standard suitable to drink. The low carbon, sustainable technology company has proven their AQR Safe Water® system in a three-year project, culminating in a pilot trial with Scottish Water at their Water Development Centre, Gorthleck, near Inverness.

AQR Safe Water® — a balanced system of water chemistry and physics – is a unique treatment approach to provide clear, safe drinking water from unfiltered organic-rich raw surface waters.

Scotland has nearly 22,000 private water supplies, many from raw surface water sources which are notoriously high in organics, giving the water that characteristic dark colour and earthy aroma. This is extremely difficult to treat, leading to poor drinking water quality which has been highlighted as a limiting factor to growth, especially in rural areas.

The cost of treating peaty water to drinking water standard can be too expensive for small businesses or households on private supplies. Although private supplies are not in the remit of Scottish Water, funding from the Scottish government and the CAN DO Challenge enabled the company to explore AQR Safe Water’s® capabilities, and seek creative solutions for small-scale water treatment plants.

AQR took up the challenge to demonstrate the potential of its system in helping solve society’s increasingly complex water treatment needs without the high energy demands of current processes.

The trial’s main objective was to assess performance for compliance in private and very small public supplies.

The AQR Safe Water® system combines novel hydroxyl radical generation with specialised filtration, each optimising the performance of the other. It requires no pre-treatment, operates in dirty water, and produces no toxic wastewater. It also demonstrated reliable operation over a sustained period, with autonomous control and remote monitoring, and requires less power per module than a standard light bulb.

Graeme Moore, Senior Project Manager in Research and Innovation at Scottish Water, said: “The recent AQR trial is showing that low-energy, zero chemical and zero waste potable water treatment could finally be within our grasp, especially for small public and private supplies. Personally, it’s been a very rewarding project to be involved in and if AQR can scale up on their successes, it could prove to be an exciting breakthrough for novel water treatment technology.”

George Ponton, Head of Research and Innovation at Scottish Water, added: “The results from the trials are extremely encouraging and we look forward to working further with AQR to determine how this can be incorporated into solutions for rural water supplies. Provision of reliable and affordable treatment for small scale private water supplies is an ongoing challenge that we are working with the Scottish Government to resolve.”

Peter Kukla, MD of AQR, said: “The opportunity to demonstrate our novel AQR Safe Water® technology at the Gorthleck facility has been invaluable. It has certainly proved our potential to provide a low carbon and sustainable solution and we look forward to implementing it at full scale in the UK.”

The next stage for this work is a scale-up project, also working closely with Scottish Water, moving from the current batch process to a ‘flow through’ process, for use on higher capacity demands.

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