Global licence agreement signed for SeweX technology

Sewer corrosion costs many tens of billions of dollars annually around the world. SeweX is an advanced mathematical model that identifies increased corrosion in sewer networks.


Peter White


9 min

I am delighted to announce that we have signed an exclusive, worldwide, twenty-year licence agreement with the University of Queensland’s technology transfer company UniQuest, in order to take the award-winning SeweX technology to the global stage.

SeweX is an advanced mathematical modelling tool describing the physical, chemical and biological processes in sewers. It has been developed over many years by some the world’s leading wastewater experts at the University of Queensland’s Advanced Water Management Centre (AWMC) in conjunction with several major Australian water utilities.

The SeweX model is designed to identify the areas within a sewer network at high risk of increased levels of corrosion and odour production. Envirosuite will build on the existing SeweX model and integrate it into the existing software platform.

The new solution when launched promises to materially reduce core operating and capital costs for network operators through predictive identification of corrosion and odour-risk priority areas enabling optimisation of chemical dosing for in-sewer sulphide control.

Traditional methods for managing corrosion are slow to evidence results or rely on strategies that are expensive or inefficient. To optimally reduce both operating and capital costs and extend the life of their assets, operators need and are seeking proactive solutions that can be provided by SeweX modelling technology incorporated into Envirosuite’s world-leading monitoring, modelling and management platform.

SeweX has attracted global interest from water utilities and first sales of the new solution as an offering through the Envirosuite platform are anticipated to commence in the first half of the 2020 calendar year.

Sewer corrosion and urban infrastructure

Sewer corrosion is a major problem in urban infrastructure globally and leads to the need for expensive rehabilitation (repair and renovation). Corrosion problems can severely limit the lifetime of sewer network assets. Corrosion is also closely linked to odour generation in sewers.

Sewer corrosion costs many tens of billions of dollars annually: estimates are currently:AU$20bn annually in the United Kingdom over AU$50bn in the USA and AU$1bn in Australia. In China, approximately AU$10bn was invested in sewer network construction in 2014 alone and this amount is projected to increase rapidly. However, pro-active methods of corrosion control have not yet been widely applied and assets are at significant risk of premature failure as a result.

The cost of replacement and maintenance for single wastewater authorities can cost several hundred million dollars.

Sewer corrosion is a multi-billion dollar infrastructure challenge across the globe.

About SeweX technology

To date SeweX has been successfully commercially applied on a consultancy basis and has identified over $100 million in potential future savings in only the minor subsets of the water utilities to which it has been so far applied. Incorporating the technology in Envirosuite’s platform provides for a highly scalable and on-going subscription-based offering with a compelling ROI proposition.

“Corrosion and odour problems in sewers are most often caused by sulphate-reducing bacteria in sewer biofilms that produce hydrogen sulphide. Hydrogen sulphide is released into the atmosphere above the wastewater, causing odour problems, and is converted by sulphide-oxidising bacteria into sulphuric acid, which is corrosive to concrete sewer pipes.”

“Sewer networks can include many kilometres of sewer pipe and various topographical elements, such as rising mains, gravity mains, pumping stations and manholes. It is practically difficult to physically inspect all these structures to identify corrosion issues, making modelling a more efficient and cost-effective alternative.” - Lead Researcher and AWMC Director Professor Zhiguo Yuan, AM on Sewer Corrosion

Envirosuite CEO Peter White with Lead Researcher and AWMC Director Professor Zhiguo Yuan

Commercially proven case studies for SeweX

Controlling sulphide generation and build up in the wastewater system is the main objective of odour and corrosion management. Advanced Water Management Centre researchers have collaborated with several Australian water authorities to test and demonstrate the capabilities of SeweX in real world applications.

  • Sydney Water - Sydney Water spends over $50 million a year managing odour and corrosion in its wastewater system. This money is spent on renewal of corroded assets as well as chemical dosing and odour treatment to reduce sulphide levels in the wastewater network and odour impact on communities. Utilising SeweX modelling, strategies for 5 of its 26 wastewater systems were developed and implemented with cost savings of over $100 million over 30 years identified for these systems using SeweX in combination with Sydney Water’s decision support analyses.

  • At Bellambi in NSW, SeweX was applied in two ways: firstly, as a profile model based on typical sewer conditions to guide the design of a dosing system to reduce sulphide levels, which achieved over 90% reduction on average; and secondly to drive a predictive dosing experiment that produced another 50% reduction in sulphides while using 25% less dosing chemical.

Case study reference

“This technology sees towns and cities reducing odour issues, and wastewater operators saving millions of dollars every year in operational costs and consumer complaint management. This partnership is an exciting one. Bringing together tools like SeweX, which has been developed by some of the leading academic minds in the water industry, with Envirosuite’s strength in technology and focus on digitalising wastewater management, is extremely powerful.” - Envirosuite Chief Scientist Robin Ormerod on Sewex

Extending Envirosuite's solutions in wastewater management

Concept screen for how SeweX may be visualised in the Envirosuite user interface.

As we have continued to expand our business in our target industry verticals of mining and wastewater we have seen the opportunity to extend our solutions from air quality management to include the digitalisation of other aspects of operations. Extending Envirosuite’s sophisticated monitoring and management platform to optimise productive outcomes for our clients is expected to increase value perception and bind us closer to our customers.

The exclusive licencing deal for Sewex IP is potentially the most significant strategic technical step forward that the Company has taken since the rebuild of the first generation of the Envirosuite platform that set us off on our journey as a world-leading provider of environmental management solutions.

We believe that the application of SeweX within the Envirosuite platform will see us take our value proposition to the wastewater sector from peripheral to core operations, with a high and determinable P&L impact for clients. This positions our offering for broad industry adoption at much higher average contract values.

The timing could not be better with our entry into China which is the world’s largest market for our offering. The SeweX opportunity is expected to further bolster the size and scope of the projects that are opening up for us in China.

“It is fantastic to see UQ research helping an Australian company like Envirosuite to drive key improvements to the way water utilities managed wastewater to benefit communities right across the country, and even globally." - UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss on the partnership

To find out more about Sewex click here.