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Tech pioneers win innovation contract with United Utilities

A fledgling Cumbrian company whose bug-busting tech could help slash the cost of water treatment worldwide has won its first major contract – with its local water firm United Utilities.

Penrith-based Typhon Treatment Systems’ new ultraviolet (UV) LED water treatment technology is one of the first systems in the world capable of using UV from LEDs to neutralise harmful microorganisms on an industrial scale.

North West water firm United Utilities uses UV in its drinking water treatment process to remove nasty bugs or to remove earthy smells caused by algae.

Other LED UV treatment systems are only effective at treating small amounts of water for very low flows or personal use.

Typhon’s long term contract with United Utilities follows the world’s first large scale operational trial of the technology at the water firm’s Cumwhinton Water Treatment Works, near Carlisle, where Typhon built a test LED UV reactor.

The two companies have been working together on the technology since its potential came to light as part of a worldwide tech talent trawl United Utilities launched in 2017.

Typhon was among seven finalists in United Utilities’ Innovation Lab – giving them access to the water giant’s huge wealth of data, systems and expert knowledge to incubate their ideas and help bring their idea to market.

Typhon is now hoping to market the product worldwide as a unique, cost-effective, low maintenance UV water treatment, which could eventually render traditional lamps, based on mercury, obsolete.

United Utilities uses UV treatment to treat for microorganisms or help remove taste and odour from drinking water and also, in separate installations, to treat bacteria in wastewater before returning it to the environment.

Head of Innovation, Kieran Brocklebank said: “Until now the only way of using it to treat the huge volumes we need has been using traditional technology that uses mercury in glass bulbs. But with the potential to be up to 90% more energy efficient, as well as more reliable, easier to maintain and safer, Typhon’s new LED version was a brilliant idea we wanted to develop.”

Director of Water and Scientific Services, Dr Martin Padley said: “We really believed in this technology and we’ve helped Typhon prove it works for the water industry. It’s great to have signed a long term contract which means we can use this novel kit in our next five year investment period not just to treat drinking water more reliably and at lower cost for our customers, but also potentially to treat some of the cleaned wastewater we return to the environment as well,” he said.

Welcoming the contract Typhon Treatment Systems’ managing director Matt Simpson said: “We can’t overstate the importance of UU’s support to the development of our technology. This first commercial contract is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from our team and theirs. We look forward to continued cooperation with UU. We do have plans to apply this technology worldwide.”