Can local biomass waste be used to help solve the problem of polluted waste water in developing countries where water is a scarce resource? Bio4Energy scientists think so. Today one of them is taking her project on the matter to an audience of café goers downtown Umeå, in northern Sweden.
Working with local stakeholders in Tanzania and Morocco, Jansson and her team are going to test whether by using simple stoves built from mud or manure, local agricultural waste can be carbonised and turned into biochar. The carbonised residues will be evaluated both as a soil amendment, sucking pollution from irrigation water hitting the soil and as an agent that captures toxic substances in simple water-filtering appliances.
"What we want to do, using very simple methods, is to use residual products from agriculture to make carbon materials which then may be used in simple water purification applications, either by spreading the biochar on the ground just before watering the crop, so that the char takes up the pollution before it can reach the crop. Or one could envisage making some kind of simple cassettes or containers, or to use [the biochar] in [existing] DEWATS [waste water treatment] plants", said Jansson, who is affiliated with Umeå University (UmU) in northern Sweden.
Funding for the project was only granted in the last round of funding from the prestigious Swedish Research Council, but already the project has grown to include scientists in South Africa who have both expertise in the engineering required and a good grasp of the difficulty in introducing new technology, as simple as it may be, in the context of underdeveloped countries on the African continent, said Jerker Fick who is a colleague of Jansson's at UmU and part of the biochar-for-water-treatment project.
Stina Jansson will be giving the talk Agricultural Residues for Water Purification in Africa at Kafé Station at 12:15 p.m. today, at Umeå. All are welcome there or to watch a video recording of the event at: http://www.umu.se/om-universitetet/aktuellt/live/.