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  • by Trevor Loveday

Arcadis alloys with Cobalt to claim curb on potent greenhouse gas

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE

Engineering and management consultant, Arcadis, has partnered with artificial intelligence (AI) and modelling specialist, Cobalt Water Global, to create an AI-based means that it claimed will help curb the harmful release, from all wastewater treatment plant, of nitrous oxide – a potent climate change accelerator, commonly known as laughing gas used in anaestetics.


The Cobalt Water system “uses AI to combine expert knowledge on nitrous oxide with machine learning to quantify emissions, optimise the treatment process, and eliminate nitrous oxide” Arcadis said.

Arcadis said nitrous oxide emissions 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 in bringing on climate warming and it depletes ozone in the upper atmosphere which shields the earth’s surface from the sun’s harmful ultra violet light. Arcadis reported that a recent pilot for the new technology with a UK-based water company showed it was able to take out “at least 70%” of the nitrous oxide generated by the water company’s treatment processes.

Arcadis said nitrous oxide is emitted from wastewater treatment works that are not properly optimised. It said the new technology can give a water company an accurate understanding of its nitrous oxide output and recommendations on how to optimise its operations to reduce its emissions. The consultant pointed out the offsetting nitrous oxide emissions would not account for its damage to the ozone layer

The partnership was formed through Arcadis’ collaboration with global partnership generator, Techstars. Arcadis said its tie up with Cobalt will bring “a tried and tested offering to its water clients.” Business area director for resilience at Arcadis, Sian Whittaker, said: “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.”

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