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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Arcadis AI partnership set to transform water sector in race to net zero

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be transformational for the water industry, as well as significantly contributing to solutions around the climate crisis.

That was the message from Arcadis and AI and modelling specialist Cobalt Water Global, who have worked in partnership on an innovative tech tool to reduce harmful nitrous oxide (N2O) output in the wastewater sector by at least 70%.

The technology could play a major role in the water sector’s race to become net zero by 2030, as it reduces the amount of harmful ozone-depleting nitrous oxide (N2O) released into the environment due to the industry.

A recent pilot trialling the new technology with one UK-based water company showed it was able to reduce at least 70% of the N2O from the company’s treatment processes, delivering major environmental, tax and energy efficiency savings.

The tool uses AI to combine expert knowledge on N2O and machine learning to quickly quantify emissions, optimise the treatment process, and eliminate N2O.

Sian Whittaker, business area director for resilience at Arcadis, said: “Our partnership with Cobalt Water provides a perfect example of how all of us at Arcadis are constantly striving to find sustainable solutions to some of the biggest challenges our planet faces.

“Reducing harmful emissions from wastewater by up to 70% could be transformational for the water industry, and will be a major step forward in meeting our net zero targets.”

Emissions from nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, are a major problem for the wastewater sector and its 7,000 treatment plants across the UK, accounting for 80% of their carbon footprint.

The gas is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (C02), meaning emissions from these sites are estimated to be the equivalent to 700,000 tonnes of C02 per year.

These emissions are equivalent to more than 1.7 billion miles driven by an average petrol-powered passenger vehicle, more than 774 million pounds of coal burned and more than 1.6 million barrels of oil consumed.

The partnership between Arcadis and Cobalt Water Global came via Arcadis’s relationship with Techstars, a global organisation that forms partnerships with forward-thinking businesses to seek out and scale up innovative new startups and entrepreneurs.

Under the tie up with Cobalt, Arcadis will be able to bring this tried and tested offering to its water clients – providing a major environmental boost to the sector.

Jose Porro, founder and CEO of Cobalt Water Global, said: “This partnership is important because it formalises a commitment to help solve the climate crisis by working together, which is what we all need to be doing if we want a chance at a better future.

“We are proud to be partnering with Arcadis, who are providing world class engineering services to the water industry.

"With our product in their toolbox, Arcadis is in a position to help us multiply our impact by helping their clients across the globe to reduce their wastewater N2O process emissions, which present the biggest opportunity for the water sector to reduce its GHG emissions.”

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