Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineering a solution to waste crisis

04.06.2003


Engineers at Cardiff University, UK, are using the latest technology to update a time-honoured practice – and turn a serious environmental problem into a valuable resource.



Modern industrial societies generate vast quantities of waste – the UK alone produces more than a million tonnes every day. A large proportion of it has traditionally been put into "landfill" – literally dumped into large holes in the land, but space is running out and the damage to the environment from landfill sites is of increasing concern.

Predictions indicate that increases in municipal waste, the main contributor to landfill, will more than double the amount of landfill gas generated in the next 20 years, a very high portion of which is methane, one of the most aggressive "greenhouse" gases.


To help deal with these increases, Cardiff researchers, led by Dr Keith Williams and Dr. Tony Griffiths in the School of Engineering, are conducting large-scale experiments into generating compost from municipal waste.

At a specially-constructed site in Carmarthenshire, West Wales, they are analysing constant readings of temperature, gas flows, and gas composition, to develop the most efficient ways of producing valuable compost from material which would otherwise be discarded.

Through this work, largely sponsored by Carmarthenshire Environmental Resources Trust (CERT), they are finding that, by more actively managing the composting process, they can speed up the breakdown of organic material enabling them to achieve in eight weeks a quality of compost that would take a year under traditional methods.

"This work is producing solutions to no fewer than four serious environmental concerns," said Dr. Williams.

"Firstly, it disposes of much domestic waste; secondly, it helps overcome the worldwide depletion of soil quality; thirdly, it reduces emissions of methane – the highly aggressive greenhouse gas produced by landfill disposal; and fourthly, it will help save peat beds which are threatened because of their use as a fertiliser."

The composting project is one of many across several disciplines at Cardiff University dealing with the crisis of what mankind should do with its increasing quantities of waste.

The University has been chosen as the base for the Centre of Excellence in Waste Research, a Wales-wide initiative backed by the Welsh Assembly Government, and mainly sponsored by EB Nationwide.

The work is featured in a major international television campaign this week. Research TV is a joint venture involving some of the UK’s leading research-led universities. Cardiff University has joined Oxford, Warwick, Kings College London and Birmingham, as well as the Economic and Social Research Council to promote world class research in British universities to an overseas audience.

The waste management project features in a television news feature being distributed to news channels around the world this week. Further details of Research TV are available at http://www.research-tv.com.

Dr Keith Williams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.research-tv.com
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>