Researchers Improve Treatment Of Industrial Waste

December 17, 1997

Research being conducted at the University of Toronto's Pulp and Paper Centre promises a cheaper and more energy-efficient method to clean up industrial emissions.

Professor Grant Allen of the department of chemical engineering and applied chemistry and a team of researchers have devised a process that treats waste air and water emissions -- while they are still hot -- from pulp and paper mills. Using heat-resistant microbes, the researchers treat waste air and water at temperatures up to 70 degrees Celsius, removing various pollutants.

Currently industrial emissions must be cooled before treatment, using methods that require large amounts of energy. Waste gases are cooled to 40 degrees Celsius so they can be treated with bacteria; waste water, to 35 degrees Celsius before secondary biological treatment.

"Right now there's a strong interest in treating the air and water effluents at high temperatures because that's how they're emitted," says Allen, associate director of the Pulp and Paper Centre. "Our process will save companies time and money by eliminating the steps that must be followed to cool the waste. There's also an environmental benefit because less energy is used."

The ultimate goal of the team's research, he adds, is to treat and reuse the effluent once it has been cleaned.

The research on waste air is sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and a group of companies known as Environmental Sciences and Technology Alliance Canada; the research on gas emissions is sponsored by an international consortium of 13 pulp and paper companies and by the Ontario's ministry of the environment. CONTACT: Professor Grant Allen, Pulp and Paper Centre, (416) 978-8517, e-mail: or Roberta Fulthorpe, department of environmental science at Scarborough, (416) 287-7221, or (416) 287-7223, e-mail: or Steven de Sousa, U of T public affairs, (416) 978-6974, e-mail:

University of Toronto

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