Award-winning technology reduces energy needed to treat water, wastewater

Nov. 4, 2010
LOS ANGELES, CA, Nov. 4, 2010 -- Will Zimmerman, professor of Biochemical Dynamical Systems at the University of Sheffield, was awarded the very prestigious Royal Society Brian Mercer award for innovation for his work on Micro Bubble energy saving technology...

LOS ANGELES, CA, Nov. 4, 2010 -- Will Zimmerman, professor of Biochemical Dynamical Systems at the University of Sheffield, was awarded the very prestigious Royal Society Brian Mercer award for innovation on Oct. 14, for his work on Micro Bubble energy saving technology. AECOM has been a partner in this work which will ultimately transform the cost and effectiveness of treating wastewater, growing algae and cooling computers. Zimmerman also received a quarter of a million pound prize from the Royal Society to further develop this technology.

AECOM has been working closely with Sheffield University and Zimmerman over the last four years to develop innovative technologies that greatly reduce the amount of energy used to treat water and wastewater. This particular system devised by Zimmerman requires 80 percent less energy than existing methods of creating bubbles for treatment processes.

The technology uses very fine micro bubbles to improve the aeration efficiency at wastewater treatment works. This is an essential part of most wastewater treatment processes, which allows the effluent to be discharged without causing harm to the aquatic environment.

Brenda Franklin, global technologist, AECOM, reports, “This is a very exciting technology and we are looking forward to working with Professor Zimmerman to test this process at full scale. Just the U.K. alone uses more than 2,000 Giga-Watt hours of electricity a year to treat wastewater, which is approximately half a percent of the total electricity used in the country and is equivalent to 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. If successful, at full scale there is a terrific opportunity to provide many treatment plant operators with substantial savings at their facilities.“

Professor Zimmerman said, "AECOM has been a tremendous development partner. Taking an invention that works in idealized conditions in the lab into a real world industrial plant is an enormous leap, and could never have been done without the insight into process requirements and imagination of the AECOM staff. Innovation can only occur if visionary process experts, such as those at AECOM, are open to new ideas and can picture how the invention provides a foundation for the solution. AECOM is actively engaged with three development partnerships on energy efficient micro bubbles, each with unique selling points focused on transfer rates, flotation separation, and ozone delivery."

AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 51,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 100 countries and had revenue of $6.3 billion during the 12-month period ended June 30, 2010. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at


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