Australian-first tech: next step in waste transformation innovation

The next iteration of waste transformation innovation is underway with the water industry transforming biosolids headed for landfill into reusable products for farmers, thanks to RMIT-developed technology.

The new technology, the first of its kind in Australia, uses high temperatures to destroy pathogens and micro plastics in biosolids, creating high-value biochar.

Developed and patented by RMIT, the innovation allows farmers and the wider agriculture industry to reuse 100% of the product safely. The technology will make biosolids management more environmentally sustainable and cost effective, as well as helping reduce carbon emissions for both the water and agriculture industries.

Farmers and the wider agriculture industry commonly use biosolids as fertiliser and soil amendment. Currently around 30% of the world’s biosolids resource is stockpiled or sent to landfill, creating an environmental challenge.

The unique pyrolysis technology (PYROCO) transforms biosolids into biochar, a product which can be recycled and reused.

The next stage of the trial is to scale up the technology and have a unit in place at a water recycling plant over a longer period of time.

The development of the technology was supported through funding from RMIT’s Enabling Capability Platforms, with the project led by Associate Professor Kalpit Shah, Deputy Director (Academic) of the ARC Training Centre for Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource at RMIT.

The fluidised bed technology is based on slow pyrolysis - a process for splitting up organic materials into their chemical components by heating them in the absence of oxygen, so they do not combust.

The novel reactor radically optimises heat and mass transfer, while shrinking the technology to make it highly mobile. As well as being used in wastewater treatment, the reactor has potential applications in the biomass, plastics and coating industries.

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