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Waste 'Eating' System Could Be World Leader

Matthew Savage's research into cleaning up woolscour effluent could turn out to be a world leader and increase overseas business for Timaru firm ADM Group Ltd.

Mr Savage, a University of Canterbury chemical engineering student, has developed a biological treatment that removes 90 per cent of biodegradable pollution from woolscour effluent. The process centres on an aerobic effluent-filled, bacteria-laden tank.

"Air is bubbled into it. The bugs eat the waste and turn it into carbon dioxide and water. That's the simplest way of describing it," he says. "It's not expensive, and the operating costs are low."

Mr Savage did his research for ADM Group with support from the Technology for Industry Fellowship scheme of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

"A lot of work is going on now around the world to clean up what was a foul and dirty industry, and make it into a very clean one," ADM research and development manager Graeme Wood says.

"For instance, one scour can produce as much pollution as a city of 30,000 people. Work is now being done to find out how this can be turned into compost and liquid fertiliser."

Mr Savage is yet to finish his fellowship project, but ADM is already commercialising the process he has developed so far in laboratory and pilot plant work.

Mr Savage will soon visit the Czech Republic, England and Australia to audit woolscours for ADM. His trip will also take him to the German port city of Bremen, home of BWK, the world's biggest woolscour, which has a huge effluent treatment plant.

"I'll be working to integrate my project into other people's processes," he says.

Mr Savage will focus the rest of his project on getting rid of the remaining 10 per cent of pollution.

"Some of the effluent can't be biodegraded. My goal is to get it clean enough to be discharged into a river or reused, rather than flushed down a sewer which costs most scours hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."

The process would enable treatment plants to meet local authority requirements and help them cut effluent treatment costs. Mr Wood says Mr Savage's work is important commercially and has provided important scientific knowledge And the future for Matt Savage? "He'll have a job with us after he's finished his PhD," Mr Wood says.

-ends-

Contact: * Graeme Wood, ADM Group Ltd, Seadown Rd, Washdyke, Timaru. Ph: (03) 688-2044. Fax: (03) 688-2640. Email: g.wood@andar.co.nz * Matthew Savage, chemical engineering department, School of Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. Ph: (03) 364-2987 (ext 7121), (03) 348-1912, 021 292 7708. Email: mjs150@cad.canterbury.ac.nz * Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, (04) 917-7800 or 025 454-095. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, ian@idcomm.co.nz


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