NUI Galway Research to Boost Eco-Industries
Monday, 18 December 2006
18 December 2006: Environmental researchers from the Civil Engineering Department and Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway have been awarded a three-year research grant to develop, commission and assess innovative environmental technologies for treating wastewaters from small towns and large villages. The research is seen as a major initiative in developing sustainable environmental products and services for the domestic and export markets, as well as meeting the requirements of EU directives on water quality.
According to Dr. Michael Rodgers, Civil Engineering, NUI Galway, who heads up the research, "This project is a strategic step towards developing the knowledge, skills and products Ireland will need in order to command a strong stake-hold in the burgeoning environmental technology industry. It is one of the fastest growing sectors in the EU, supplying €183 billion worth of goods and services a year, and is also highlighted in the Government's recent Strategy Document for Science, Technology and Innovation".
The grant is co-funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the EU Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), and the National Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD) under the National Development Plan.
Dr. Rodgers will carry out the research work with members of his twenty–person team of engineers and scientists from Ireland, China, Denmark, Spain and Poland. The present value of the team's contracts on such national and international environmental research projects is in excess of € 2.2 million.
On location at a local authority site, the NUI Galway team will design and develop technologies to clean wastewater for discharge to any surface or groundwater body. Innovative environmental technologies will be developed to remove a range of contaminants from the wastewater, including organic carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, microorganisms, odours and solids. Nutrients from the wastewater will fertilise willow trees and the chipped willows will be used as biofuel.
The performance of the technologies will be monitored by on-line analysers and sensors, and will be interrogated and controlled from NUI Galway's campus, while computer models will be built and calibrated to provide designs for a range of population sizes. Capital and running costs of different technologies will be evaluated and compared to provide design guidelines for consultants, architects, local authorities, developers, agriculture, industry and planners.
The research will provide the basis for a unique Irish water and waste facility for leading edge research, knowledge creation, graduate training, and the development and commercialisation of eco-innovative environmental technologies. There is also scope for education, public information and policy planning.
Dr. Rodgers continued "There is great support for the NUI Galway project from environmental technology stakeholders as they have also identified the industry's potential for market growth at home and abroad. All stakeholders will be invited to take part in the research project. It is expected that new commercial environmental products will be developed from this and other industry/higher education projects part-financed through national agencies that include EPA, COFORD, Enterprise Ireland, HEA, IRCSET, Marine Institute, SFI, and Teagasc".