Whisky DRAM Cleans Up Contaminated Water
A byproduct from the production of Scotland's national drink is being used to clean contaminated groundwater and wastewater in a new technique unveiled March 5 by the University of Aberdeen.
The technology – known as DRAM -- has massive potential for industry as groundwater contamination is a major problem and can delay or even prevent land development as well as being a hazard to health and the environment.
In the United Kingdom, an estimated 330,000 sites are contaminated by pollutants that have leached into the land that once served as industrial areas. The industries include small dry cleaning firms and car servicing companies as well as large refinery and chemical plants. The UK's annual estimated expenses for remediation are £1.2 billion.
But DRAM – Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants – is the first process that removes multiple pollutants simultaneously.
While the new technology has so far only used a whisky byproduct – the first time it has ever been used this way – tests demonstrate the technique could also deploy other byproducts from food and drink production. These byproducts are enhanced and incorporated into a unique patented device that can be introduced into contaminated waters in a variety of ways.
Scottish Enterprise has provided almost £300,000 of funding into the research via its Proof of Concept Programme, which aims to improve the level and quality of commercialization within Scotland.
World famous Speyside distillery Glenfiddich® has also helped researchers get to this stage by donating the byproduct for use in the novel technology.
The University of Aberdeen researchers –Graeme Paton, Ken Killham, and Leigh Cassidy – are considering forming a company to commercialize the technology that could be licensed to land consultants and other companies involved in remediation.
Pre-field trials of DRAM conducted in the West Coast of Scotland have shown a 99.96 percent success rate. Field trials are about to begin in Glasgow.