24 Mar 2021

Net Zero in reach with new water treatment innovation from AQR


A Midlands-based business has come up with a new way to treat contaminated water - a method that has a low energy requirement, uses no added chemicals, and will help accelerate the water industry to meet net-zero carbon goals. To support them during this critical time in the business's development they have teamed up with Innovate UK EDGE for fully funded, bespoke growth support.

Clean water is a necessary basis for all human rights, and a necessity for the survival of life on earth. With climate change impacting the amount of clean water we have available to us (due to floods, droughts, shifts in temperature etc) humanity must work harder to purify and clean water while leaving a smaller impact on our environment.

While countries around the world shift to greener practices and the UK water industry is launching its own roadmap to be net-zero by 2030, companies need to find cleaner ways of treating and conserving water, whether for consumption, industrial use, or re-use.

From Garage to Glamorous On-Site Testing

AQR was founded by an industrial engineer, Peter Kukla, who has always been focused on leaving a positive impact on society with his work from the beginning. This is demonstrated by his earlier success of developing a way to reduce ultra-fine particulate in diesel exhaust emissions before cities were trying to reduce their carbon impact in this way.

Using the background of sustainability, Mr Kukla then focused his sights on a new area, turning from air to water. To re-use water or return it safely back into the environmental water cycle it must go through an, often complex, treatment process to be purified. Several methods can be used but all require either the addition of chemicals, high energy usage, produce waste products or a combination of all these.

For Mr Kukla, the goal was to find a low energy method of treating water to a safe standard without adding chemicals or creating harmful waste. With the help of Dr Rayne Longhurst, they set up a garage-based development rig and created AQR Safewater® - technology that has the potential for both industrial and municipal water treatment. The low energy requirements of the equipment lend itself to being solar or wind-powered too, opening up many new global, off-grid water-treatment opportunities and further supporting its capability of helping to reach net-zero targets.

Site trials with Scottish Water began in 2020. "The building and testing process must be a meticulous one," said CEO, Peter Kukla, "We have to be certain that the quality of the water is of a very high standard every time so the water can be discharged into the environment safely or piped into someone's home for drinking.”

Getting ready to scale the business

It is usually the case that low-quality water means high energy, complex and expensive treatment solutions but this new technology from AQR has changed the rules. With AQR Safewater® low quality, often peaty and coloured water can be treated to a high standard using low energy due to the powerful use of hydroxyl radicals combined with a novel dosing method which revolutionises the performance of advanced oxidation processes and offers a step-change treatment solution to the industry.

To support the team through scale-up, Innovate UK EDGE will provide bespoke help to AQR, assisting them to accelerate their technology to market and scale up the business. “With such innovative technology, the Innovate UK EDGE hands-on support from Jenny Rohde comes at a crucial time as we face a new host of challenges and need to get ready to grow exponentially,” Dr Longhurst commented.