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 Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>