Aug 28, 2007

University of Queensland Industrial Wastewater Cleaning Process Goes International

Molecular biologists at University of Queensland's Advanced Wastewater Management Centre (AWMC) in Queensland, Australia, will link with leading European researchers to advance a revolutionary “fast sludge” process after receiving $823,00 in Federal Government funding.

The UQ project was by far the largest among 19 nationally to be awarded funding in round 12 of the International Science Linkages (ISL) Competitive Grants scheme announced by Education, Science and Training Minister, Julie Bishop.

Program leader Professor Linda Blackall said Environmental Biotechnology CRC (EBCRC) researchers at the AWMC were developing a new efficient and reliable technology to remove high levels of nutrients, mainly nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon, from industrial wastewater.

“Wastewater treatment plants based on novel aerobic granular sludge represent a potent innovative alternative, avoiding or minimizing the drawbacks of the conventional floccular systems,” said Professor Blackall.

“The extraordinary settling characteristics of aerobic granular sludge has superior organic carbon conversion capacities and produces substantially less sludge than the traditional systems.

“Additionally, the aerobic granular process occupies only a quarter of the space of conventional plants and energy consumption is reduced by a third due to lower water pumping requirements and more efficient utilization of provided dissolved oxygen.”

Professor Blackall said the ISL grant would allow researchers to cooperate with two leading international organizations, the Istituto di Ricerca Sulle Acque (IRSA, Rome, Italy), and the Technical University Delft (TUD), the Netherlands.

The research is also funded by EBCRC, the AWMC and Meat and Livestock Australia, with EBCRC investing more than $1.9m over two and a half years as part of its advanced biotechnology programs for industry.

“The opportunity to link with the European collaborators on this project provides tremendous impetus and capacity for us to quickly become international leaders in this field,” Professor Blackall said.

“The potential for commercialization of the process and of the diagnostic procedures is high due to the large number of high nutrient containing wastewater generators throughout the world.”