South East Water has teamed up again with RMIT University, Intelligent Water Networks, Greater Western Water and Barwon Water to progress trials of an innovative pyrolysis technology (PYROCO) as part of the second phase of a $1 million Biosolids to Biochar project.
The project uses next-generation pyrolysis technology to transform biosolids generated from wastewater treatment plants into biochar, a safe and nutrient-rich material sought after by the agriculture industry to regenerate soils. It can also be used in construction and the development of advanced carbon materials. Biochar also stores carbon, preventing it from being released into the environment.
Last week, the project team welcomed Member for Melton, Steve McGhie MP, to Greater Western Water’s Melton Recycled Water Plant to view the purpose-built demonstration unit and showcase the technology and its benefits.
“This project demonstrates how industry and science can work together to deliver great outcomes for our environment and economy. Biochar is an exciting product with great potential for both our farmers and our construction industries, and I’m excited to see the trial’s outcomes,” McGhie said.
The current Phase 2 trials follow successful Phase 1 trials in 2021, demonstrating the removal of pathogens, contaminants, and microplastics. It seeks to validate these results at a greater scale using biosolids from various water authorities and biomass, food, and organic waste.
Biochar project provides potential
South East Water General Manager Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Daniel Sullivan said the project could address the water industry’s challenge of disposal of biosolids while removing carbon from the atmosphere and progressing towards our net-zero carbon pledge.
“We believe that this exciting technology has the potential to transform by-products of the wastewater process into a valuable resource in a way that is the most carbon-efficient while maximising the quality of the biochar. In this Phase 2 trial, we’re seeking to validate assumptions that will give us the confidence to scale up to a fully operational plant to manage our biosolids challenge,” Sullivan said.
He also highlighted the importance of working together with industry peers to drive innovation in the water sector and address shared challenges like reducing waste, creating circular economies in water, and protecting our environment.
“This project highlights the importance of collaborating with industry and research partners. When we coordinate our respective knowledge, expertise and resources towards a common goal, we can accelerate the adoption of new technologies that can transform how the water industry operates,” he said.
The Biosolids to Biochar project is being delivered in partnership with RMIT University, Intelligent Water Networks, South-East Water, Greater Western Water and Barwon Water with a $100,000 investment by the State Government.
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