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Development of industrial effluent treatment catalyst from low value fleeces - NF0529

Description
The key aim of this project is to develop an effluent treatment catalyst based on significant value addition to waste short fibre, upland wool fleeces.

To achieve this aim the wool fibre must be chemically modified to fix securely an active catalytic site to its surface and then optimised to obtain the best possible catalyst with minimal usage of the modifying chemicals. The catalyst will be characterised as to its structure, durability and capacity for regeneration, whilst its catalytic activity towards the decomposition of a range of pollutants, as well as, real end user effluent will be determined. The Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and Total Organic Carbon (TOC) of the treated effluents will be used as a quantitative and comparative measure of the efficacy of treatment and the products of decomposition will be analysed using a range of techniques to confirm that toxic components are destroyed and that no new toxic compounds are formed by the catalytic treatment.

The hydrodynamic characteristics of the modified wool fibre catalyst, as well as, their batch to batch reproducibility will be evaluated before a catalytic reactor can be designed for use by industry. For example physical laboratory models will be used to determine ageing due to hydrolysis and biodegradation;settling characteristics due to hydaulic head; resistance to hydraulic transients. Monitoring of flow patterns will be by residence time distribution tracers and conductivity based tomography.It is thought likely that the wool fibre will need support on an expander or carrier probably made from other recycled materials such as plastics,rubber or glass.This will be followed by the construction of a performance predictive mathematical model incorporated into existing commercial software shells based on either kinetics or CFD. Initial calibration ,validation and optimisation of the engineering model of the catalytic reactor would be at laboratory scale and subsequently scaled up to pilot plant.

The project will also provide an overall assessment of the market for the use of wool derived catalyst in the effluent treatment of tbe textile industry and in other potential industries (e.g. water trearment companies) taking into consideration drivers and obstacles associated with economic, technical and legislative aspects. To facilitate industrial implementation it will be important to quantify production costs and perform sensitivity analysis (together with Efflotreat).

OBJECTIVES
Objective 1 - De Montfort University
Modification with regard to waste minimisation and clean technology policies of low value wool fibre to add value by developing and characterising an effluent treatment catalyst.
Objective 2 - Loughborough University
Investigate the hydrodynamic properties of the wool fibre catalyst and design a catalytic reactor suitable for its use in the treatment of industrial effluent.
Objective 3 – ARS, Central Science Laboratory (CSL DEFRA)
To provide a thorough market assessment for the new product, with particular attention to the uses in the textile industry. To quantify the production costs and the costs to the industry of an uptake of the new treatment. To perform sensitivity analysis and identify critical factors.
Objective 4 - Woolmark
To facilitate the commercial realisation of the novel wool catalyst with regard to the treatment of waste waters from wool scouring, dyeing and finishing industries.
Objective 5 - Efflotreat
To evaluate the commercial cost of production of the novel wool fibre catalyst

POLICY RELEVANCE
This proposal fits well within DEFRA’s policy in that it is providing fundamental scientific, technical, economic and marketing knowledge to the development and exploitation for industrial use as catalysts, an unused and low value agricultural resource.

This proposal will have multiple benefits as it addresses not only the production of the catalyst from the wool fibre, and it seeks to protect the existence of the upland sheep which are necessary to preserve the rural habitat of UK hill areas. The use of this natural wool fibre resource is likely to reduce the demand for industrially produced effluent treatment catalysts based on super heated carbon, potentially recalcitrant polyacrylamides and other modified polymeric fibres and granules. The use of waste materials will thereby conserve the energy used in their manufacture. It will also preserve the valuable oil reserves which are cracked at high temperatures to produce the chemical monomers which are then polymerised. This will give rise to a reduction in greenhouse gases, such as, carbon dioxide by obviating the use of combustion driven thermal cracking processes and the aerobic decomposition or incineration of spent polymer. Fixation of the catalyst on the wool fibres will also avoid the formation of sludge normally produced when solution phase catalysts are used and which is traditionally disposed of by landfill with the anaerobic production of methane (landfill is now being phased out under EU legislation) or by incineration with the production of further carbon dioxide. In its lifetime the wool fibre catalyst will help preserve and protect the environment by the reduction of effluent emissions to the environment and after its useful lifetime is spent biodegradation and composting could yield valuable manure to improve soil fertility and contribute to a sustainable environment.

Government priorities on waste management and clean technology will be adhered to as modification of the wool fibre to produce the catalyst will be optimised to minimise the amounts of modifying chemicals used and no organic solvents will be used in the modification process which is water based. The engineering aspects of the reactor will be optimised to make the most efficient use of the wool fibre catalytic material produced.

No additional subsidy or chemical or energy input is required to obtain the low value fleeces as these are currently available from the millions of hill and upland sheep who are sheared annually. This feature reinforces the sustainability of agriculture and the industries which will exploit these catalytic materials.

USE OF RESULTS
This work will result in the modification of low value wool fibre to a value added industrial product that can be used for effluent treatment in a number of industries, water companies and in the treatment of contaminated land groundwater leachate. As the catalyst decomposes a large variety of compounds consequently the range of industries that can use the developed catalyst is vast.This proposal will initially therefore be focussed (but not limited to) an evaluation of the activity of the catalyst in the decomposition of a range of dyes, such as, azo and anthraquinone dyes and phenol as used in the textile industry.This is an important industry in the East Midlands Region of the UK and the proposers already have international experience.

1) Use in waste water treatment – Woolmark Company
The activity of the catalyst in the decomposition of real industrial textile effluent containing auxillary substances will be evaluated as regards waste water from the wool scouring sector as well as from the dyeing and finishing sector of the wool textile industry. The design and development of an efficiently working catalytic reactor as a result of this work is crucial to the successful uptake of the catalyst by the industrial end users. The Woolmark Company is an international wool textile organisation experienced in the commercial realisation of new technologies and as a collaborator in this project will promote the technology transfer of the developed wool fibres catalyst and catalytic reactor to its licensees and industry partners with whom they are in consultation with on a variety of effluent treatment problems. They are in close contact with the British Wool Marketing Board.

2) Use in production of the catalyst – Efflotreat
Results from the optimisation of the modification process of the wool fibres to produce a catalyst will be used to formulate the costs involved in the commercialisation of the production of the catalyst.

3) Exploitation of sustainable technology – Agricultural and Rural Strategy Group (ARS of CSL DEFRA)
The Agricultural and Rural Strategy Ggroup of Defra’s Central Science Laboratory near York foccusses upon agricultural/land use change; adding value to land-based industries and the wider rural economy and the introduction to an exploitation of truly sustainable technologies to the rural business sector including agriculture. Whilst cognisant of agricultural capabilities ARS puts emphasis on market orientation of production. In doing so it evaluates economic and environmental/socio-economic aspects of proposed developments as an underpinning prerequisite of sustainable production. ARS has been the most active single unit in the UK in identifying and characterising new products and markets in the rural/agricultural sector. It co-ordinates the biggest international grouping in this sector, involving 29 countries. ARS has an extensive network of contacts in industry, the extension services and R&D, which facilitates good technology transfer to and from the marketplace. This Group will play a significant role in the sustainable aspects of taking the concept a catalyst derived from low value wool from upland sheep through from its origins to market.

4) Benefit to the environment
The environment will benefit by the availability of an inexpensive and easy to use catalyst which could be used by small companies or scaled up for use by large industries. Many small companies do not have the resources for treatment of their waste and often discharge to drain and this is particularly true for the textile industry. This technology will encourage local on site treatment and result in a better environnment. It is also likely that the catalyst will decompose other low level contaminants in water e.g.endocrine disruptors and pesticides and thereby improve the general level of treated water returning to the environment.

5) Intellectual property protection - DEFRA
It is expected that modification of the wool fibre to produce an effluent treatment catalyst and the particulars of both the catalytic reactor design and optimised operational parameters will be the subject of patent protection for potential exploitation to industry.

6) Dissemination of academic results to the wider community – De Montfort and Loughborough Universities
Once covered by patent protection the above intellectual property, as well as, the results on catalyst activity, catalyst lifetime and the nature and mechanism of products of pollutant decomposition can be disseminated to the wider academic community through publication in international journals, workshops and conferences.Loughborough is an active member of the Institution of Water Management (CIWEM) and the International Water Association (IWA), the Foundation for Water Research and a participant in the envirowise, biowise programmes for dissemination. Andrew Wheatley is currently chairman of CIWEM Scientific.
Objective
Objective 1 - De Montfort University
Modification with regard to waste minimisation and clean technology policies of low value wool fibre to add value by developing and characterising an effluent treatment catalyst.

Objective 2 - Loughborough University
Investigate the hydrodynamic properties of the wool fibre catalyst and design a catalytic reactor suitable for its use in the treatment of industrial effluent.

Objective 3 – ARS, Central Science Laboratory (CSL DEFRA)
To provide a thorough market assessment for the new product, with particular attention to the uses in the textile industry. To quantify the production costs and the costs to the industry of an uptake of the new treatment. To perform sensitivity analysis and identify critical factors. To characterise the environmental economic benefits.

Objective 4 - Woolmark
To facilitate the commercial realisation of the novel wool catalyst with regard to the treatment of waste waters from wool scouring, dyeing and finishing industries.

Objective 5 - Efflotreat
To evaluate the commercial cost of production of the novel wool fibre catalyst
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2007

Cost: £325,336
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - De Montfort
Keywords
Agri-Industrial              
Arable Farming              
Crops              
Effluents              
Farming              
Sheep              
Fields of Study
Non-Food Crops