Western invests in more green research

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Earlier this week, Western announced $1.6 million in funding for environmental and climate change research in a move that further solidifies the university’s commitment to environmentally friendly initiatives.

Eight projects at Western, ranging from water purification to the development of environmentally-friendly products to insects’ impact on climate change, were awarded funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Leaders Opportunity Fund.

Western Chemical and Biochemical Engineering professor Madhumita Ray received $211,536 to develop new and cost-effective treatment technologies for water and sludge treatment " some of which are already in use on campus.

“Basically, we can remove harmful organic compounds and mineralize them to carbon dioxide and water through a variety of techniques, rendering them safe. This is nothing new, but a more optimized process,” Ray said.

Research is being conducted in a collaborative effort with Trojan Technologies, a leader in advanced, environmentally friendly water-treatment solutions in London.

However, such solutions are a race against the clock. Ray acknowledged that these technologies will not be fully implemented “for at least several more years.”

The results of Western’s Waste Audit last week indicated Western generates 16,000 lbs of waste per week on average, with organic waste comprising the majority.

“Aside from leftover food in cafeteria waste, the trash from other buildings contained a surprising amount of whole sandwiches, fruit, entire packs of yogurt cups, bags of cookies,” said Mallory Frederick, Waste Audit Team Leader. “Reducing and re-using generally come hand-in-hand.”

The capacity to treat and reuse water raises the possibility of establishing a composting initiative, something Western already has in the works.

“Organic leftovers are already being collecting in the residences and in their kitchens,” said Brandon Watson, Communications Officer at Western’s Physical Plant.

“A campus-wide composting system is currently being assessed for later implementation.”

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