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New environmental research lab helps get more out of waste


A new London research laboratory developing fresh solutions to the perpetual problems of how best to get rid of our waste has reopened its doors today after a UKP1.5 million facelift.

Researchers based in the new Roger Perry Environmental Engineering laboratory at Imperial College are behind a number of innovative new waste reclaim and reuse projects.

Over 60 London households are helping in one project to evaluate how effective home composting is at managing domestic solid waste, thus diverting wastes from landfill. It is seeking to encourage domestic composting of vegetable, food and paper wastes, and assessing its potential for end use as a soil conditioner by measuring how well their different composts help Petunias to grow.

Another project hopes to help turn `Sewage Sludge` made from home and industry waste water into a solid material known as activated carbon that can be used to remove polluting or foreign substances from water and air.

The novel aspect of this research is that the carbon making process is entirely energy self-sufficient. All the gases released during the making of the carbon from sewage sludge are recycled as a fuel to drive the system. This not only saves energy, it produces an excess of heat which can be used for district heating or electricity generation, thus leading to a net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Sir Martin Doughty, a 1972 graduate of Imperial`s Environmental Engineering MSc course and now Chairman of English Nature, opened the newly refurbished and renamed laboratory in a ceremony this afternoon.

Based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College`s South Kensington campus, it is named in honour of Imperial`s first Professor of Environmental Control and Waste Management, Roger Perry, who died in 1995, aged 55.

He was founder of the Centre for Environmental Control and Waste Management, the first UK university-based interdisciplinary Centre specialising in waste management that opened in 1989.

The facilities are now among the most advanced in the UK for researchers investigating water treatment, air pollution and waste management.

The 550m2 laboratories house work stations for 30 researchers and are divided into three areas: sample preparation and general chemistry, microbiology and instrumental analysis.

The Laboratory`s refurbishment was funded with grants from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (total UKP1.25 million), the waste management company Cleanaway plc and Imperial College. Cleanaway provided UKP128K from their Landfill Tax credit scheme.

The Environmental Water Resource Engineering Section has strong interdisciplinary research links across Imperial`s departments of Environmental Science and Technology, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Biological Sciences.

Pictures of the laboratories are available and pics of the opening event will be available shortly after. Please contact Tom Miller.

Tom Miller | alphagalileo

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