University of Guelph Part of $1.5-Million ‘Energy Neutral’ Wastewater Treatment Project

January 27, 2017

The University of Guelph (U of G) is taking part in a novel $1.5-million initiative – backed by the federal and provincial governments – that aims to eliminate energy costs for wastewater treatment.

The announcement was made today by Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and by Member of Provincial Parliament Liz Sandals on behalf of Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS). The investment of $500,000 from MRIS will allow SOWC to build on the GE project and other innovative technology development by Ontario companies for capturing value from the treatment of wastewater, building on Ontario’s strength in this emerging area.

U of G will work with GE Water & Process Technologies, along with McMaster University, to test new ways to reduce energy consumption while at the same time generating energy from the wastewater treatment process and utilizing beneficial resources from wastewater.

It’s the first large project to receive funding under the Southern Ontario Water Consortium’s (SOWC) Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) program, which supports collaborative, industry-led technology development projects and is funded by FedDev Ontario through a $12-million contribution announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in 2016.

The project aims to achieve energy neutrality in wastewater treatment by reducing demand and by recovering energy from biogas.

U of G will work with GE to test new anaerobic digestion technology, using advanced bio-solids treatment to improve biogas production and kill pathogens.

The research will be done at the University’s cutting-edge wastewater pilot facility. Built in partnership with SOWC and the City of Guelph, the facility allows access to variable streams of wastewater from the municipal wastewater treatment plant for technology testing and demonstration.

The pilot facility is headed by engineering professor Ed McBean, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Water Supply Security. Engineering professor Sheng Chang is U of G’s lead researcher on the project; GE’s New Technology Research Lead is Youngseck Hong.

U of G will receive $368,000 out of a total of nearly $600,000 being provided through the AWT program. GE will provide $900,000 for the project. U of G’s wastewater pilot facility is one of the unique facilities for real-world water technology demonstration that make up the Southern Ontario Water Consortium. The consortium was created in 2011, backed by a $60-million combined investment from FedDev Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, IBM Canada, and university and industry partners. The network involves 10 post-secondary institutions and facilitates collaborative projects with industry for testing and demonstration of water technologies. Other schools involved in the SOWC are Fleming College, Queen’s University, Ryerson University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Western University and Wilfrid Laurier University. The City of London and the City of Guelph are also partners.




“GE is excited to be part of this project. The consumption of energy in wastewater treatment is substantial. The ability to reduce energy consumption while increasing production is an opportunity to transform the economic and environmental sustainability of wastewater treatment. By working with SOWC and the University of Guelph on this pilot, we are gathering critical data to improve energy recovery and bring new technology to market.”

Glenn Vicevic, product management executive at GE


“This first large AWT project epitomizes what SOWC is all about. We connect the needs of industry with Ontario’s academic expertise and enable real-world testing in unique facilities to help bring innovative technologies to market.”

Brenda Lucas, Executive Director SOWC


“Canada is committed to investing in clean energy technology producers because clean technologies, such as those that will result from this sub-project, have the potential to advance the way communities manage their resources, consume energy and improve quality of life. ”

Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph


“We are proud to be a part of this important pilot. Our government is committed to finding innovative new ways to conserve energy. Supporting projects like this is part of our plan to fight climate change, strengthen the economy and create jobs.”

Liz Sandals, MPP for Guelph


“This is a fantastic opportunity for U of G. Wastewater treatment is critical to human health and environmental sustainability. This project will bolster University of Guelph’s great strengths in water research and help improve life.”

Malcolm Campbell, U of G Vice-President (Research)



Lianne Cassidy, Office of Lloyd Longfield – MP, Tel: (519) 837-8276

Jenny Waterson, Office of Liz Sandals – MPP, Tel: (519) 836-4190