Whisky by-product to clean up polluted sites

A by-product from Scotland’s whisky distilleries is being used to clean contaminated ground and waste water in a pioneering new sustainable remediation technique.

Academics from Aberdeen University have developed the technology - known as the Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants (DRAM) - claimed to be the first single solution for the removal of several harmful chemicals simultaneously. The process, involving application capsules deployed throughout a series of boreholes, removes metal contaminants at the same time as degrading organic pollutants such as pesticides.

Field trials of the device in the west coastal area of Scotland have shown a 99.96% success rate. The scientists claim that DRAM is far quicker and more cost-effective than current clean-up techniques. It can be gradually or intensely applied - so it is suitable for both long-term strategies or quicker clean-ups.

Tests demonstrate that the patented device, which has so far utilised a whisky by-product, could deploy other by-products from food and drink production.

Scottish Enterprise has provided almost £300,000 in funding into the project, which has also benefited from close co-operation with institutions and regulators throughout the UK.

The university team is now considering forming a spin out company to commercialise the technology that could be licensed to consultants and remediation firms.

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