POLLUTED WATER runoff from construction sites could be treated much more quickly and cheaply in future, thanks to a £1M research programme completed this month by chemists at Sheffield University.
The concept uses a mobile mini-treatment plant fixed directly to a river outfall pipe that chemically degrades virtually any pollutant passed through it, leaving effluent cleaned to European outfall standards .
'If this device works it will be a valuable tool in our campaign to improve river quality,' said Environment Agency senior water quality scientist Paul Roberts. 'We face considerable pollution problems from small short term discharges where installing a full scale treatment plant is impractical.'
The breakthrough came after 30 years of research by senior chemistry lecturer Dr Roger Bickley. He has developed a powerful oxidising agent based on titanium dioxide that can degrade most toxic or acidic pollutants. It is claimed to reduce pollutants to mainly carbon dioxide and water at a rate of around 100 litre/h.
'A mobile plant costing less than £5000 could cope with all the effluent from low level dischargers like farmers or an average construction site,' claimed Bickley.