Dr Nigel W Brown has been given the award by the Royal Society of Chemistry Process Technology Group, in recognition of five years of research into a system called Aquacart that removes toxic organic contaminants from waste water.
Harmful compounds can be removed from sewage and waste water by a process called ‘activated carbon adsorption’, a technique used in kitchen water filters.
Brown’s Aquacart system makes use of a new material called Nyex. This has a high electrical conductivity allowing fast, effective and cheap electrochemical regeneration, which allows the material to be used again.
Using this technology, it appears that pollutants are completely destroyed, leaving no residue.
The cleaning process is housed in a unit which allows simultaneous and continuous adsorption and regeneration to take place. Its low-cost, patent pending design has no moving parts.
The system could be used not just for the treatment of sewage but also for processes like effluent polishing, groundwater treatment, colour removal, the recycling of process water and potable water treatment involving the removal of pesticides.
Aquacart’s development has been possible thanks to grants of £195,000 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through its Water Infrastructure and Treatment programme, with follow-on-funding of £56,000.
Further financial assistance has been provided by the University of Manchester Intellectual Property (UMIP), which is helping Brown explore Aquacart’s commercial potential.
Brown and the research team are now aiming to obtain further funding to build a pilot system capable of processing larger volumes of water. This is likely to be a collaborative project involving two water companies over an 18-month period.