Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Worms Turn On Pulp Mill Waste

For Immediate Release
18 July, 2006

Worms Turn On Pulp Mill Waste

Click for big version

Nick Shannon, a Waikato University student working at Crown Research Institute Scion, is investigating the potential use of worms in a bid to find environmentally-friendly ways of processing pulp mill waste.

Scion researchers in Rotorua are turning to worms in a bid to find environmentally-friendly ways of processing pulp mill waste.

Waikato University student Nick Shannon has chosen the research project for his MSc thesis, and is working at Crown Research Institute Scion to bring the idea to life.

"Certain wastes from the pulping process contain resin acids that are a natural wood protectant. Pulp mills currently deal with this residue by disposing of it in landfills.

"My project is exploring a new way of accelerating the breakdown of resin acids in these landfills and potentially converting the waste into useful soil," Nick explains.

A study by Landcare scientists confirmed that worms can effectively reduce the levels of resin acids present in pulp mill waste, and Nick's goal is to figure out how the worms do it.

"We're not sure whether worms help the breakdown by aerating the soil, whether there is some kind of organism in their gut that does the job, or if they just accumulate the chemical in their tissue," Nick says.

These are the types of questions that his thesis aims to answer, with a view to promoting sustainable treatment process for the industry.

"This is a very simple idea that is worth exploring, because simple solutions are often the best," he says.

Composting worms are commonly used in many parts of the world to breakdown organic materials ranging from textiles to municipal wastes.

"Once we know more about how the worms work in pulp residue, it gives us the opportunity to look for improvements in how we can use them in an industrial situation."

Coming from a farming background in the Tirau area, Nick has a deep-seated interest in the soil and environmental protection.

His interest in applied science led him to complete a BSc (Tech) at the University of Waikato, and he is completing his MSc while based at Scion in Rotorua.

Nick will soon be taking delivery of a worm shipment, cultivated by Landcare in Christchurch, which he will use in a lab-scale experiment before conducting field trials.

"I never imagined that I would get into worm farming, but there's no telling where an interest in science will lead you," he laughs.

Nick is undertaking the work for Scion's Eco-Smart Technologies group who focus on treating or enhancing waste streams for economic benefit, while providing economic gains.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


BusinessDesk: Body massages and Uber are in, DVDs are out, says Stats NZ

Statistics New Zealand has rejigged the consumers price index basket in its latest three-year review, adding body massages, Airbnb and Uber and removing DVD and Blu-Ray players…More>>


StuffMe: Commerce Commission Welcomes Dismissal Of Merger Appeal

In a summary of their judgment released today, Justice Dobson and lay member Professor Martin Richardson dismissed the appellants’ process criticisms and found the Commission was entitled to place significant weight on the prospect of reduced quality of the products produced by the merged entity. More>>


Digital Futures: New Chief Technology Officer Role Created

Communications Minister Clare Curran has called for expressions of interest for the new role of Chief Technology Officer position to help drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand. More>>

Real Estate: NZ house sales slump in December but prices still firm

The number of property sales across New Zealand slumped 10 percent in December from a year earlier but prices continued to lift, according to the Real Estate Institute. More >>


Dry: Beef + Lamb Launches Drought Resources

The resources include a fact sheet outlining strategies to manage and mitigate the effects of drought, coping with stress on the farm and advice on feed requirements and animal welfare during the dry period. More>>


InternetNZ: Net Neutrality Failure In US "Will Hurt All Users"

InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter has condemned the decision by the United States communications regulator to undo 2015 open Internet rules, warning that all Internet users will end up worse off as a result. More>>