Engineers with a green streak stand out
TWO BRITISH COLUMBIANS EARN AWARDS FOR THEIR ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND INNOVATIONS
Civil engineer Don Mavinic started looking for a way to rid waste treatment plants of a concrete-like compound that was jamming up equipment – and ended up with a techno-fix that could help feed the world.
Mechanical engineer Ray Roussy stubbornly persisted with a belief that he could build a better drill rig -and ended up with a machine that’s ideal for installation in the booming field of geothermal energy systems.
Both men, residents of British Columbia, will be announced today as winners of 2010 Manning Innovation Awards.
The awards — named for former Alberta premier Ernest Manning — are distributed nationally each year to a total of four applicants across Canada in recognition of “innovative talent in developing and successfully marketing a new concept, process or procedure.”
In B.C.’s case, Manning Foundation executive director Bruce Fenwick said Tuesday in a telephone interview, both winners had a noticeable green streak.
Mavinic, a civil engineering professor at the University of B.C., will receive the $25,000 David E. Mitchell Award of Distinction for a bio-digester system that transforms nutrients at waste water treatment plants into a commercial fertilizer product.
That product is rich in phosphorus, an essential nutrient for high-yield crop production despite its relative scarcity as a recoverable mining product — and predictions that the world’s deposits will be exhausted before the end of the century.
The system, which is being commercialized by Vancouverbased Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, facilitates recovery of phosphorus and other compounds that otherwise transform during biodigestion of sewage into a substance called struvite, which accumulates inside bio-reactor tanks and pipe systems — and clogs them up like plaque in arteries.