Cost effective measures for pollution control and remediation
MERIT research in this area has focused on the development of practical, cost-effective methods for authorities around the world to achieve sound day-to-day management and protection of the marine environment. Such methods pioneered by MERIT include biological treatment of wastewater, bioremediation and control of harmful algal blooms.
Biological treatment of wastewater
MERIT has developed and patented a bioreactor to efficiently remove harmful metals, and nutrients from wastewater, using immobilised microalgae, which can be recycled for continued use. The benefits of this approach are significantly reduced costs and space requirements, compared to other comparable pollution control systems. A similar system is being developed for removal of harmful chemicals in industrial waste, and MERIT is also exploring the potential use of mangroves as an effective, low-cost, environmentally friendly system for removal of organic waste and pollutants in marine water.
Bioremediation is the process whereby naturally occurring organisms or enzymes are used to treat contaminated marine water and return it to its original state. MERIT's advances in bioremediation have the potential to significantly reduce risks posed by a range of contaminants. Our techniques include the use of nano-materials to degrade pollutants, soil washing and bisorption to remove persistent organic pollutions, and natural methods for absorbing or degrading harmful pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents and pesticides at contaminated sites.
Tracking, control and reduction of harmful algal blooms/red tides
The possibility of using clays to remove harmful algal blooms, commonly known as 'red tides', from marine water has been investigated in Japan, South Korea and the US. Contributing to these advances, MERIT's own research has found that clays treated with the compound PAC (polyaluminum chloride) showed a greatly enhanced capacity to control the toxic red tide Gymnodinium breve, a significant step forward in our understanding of how to control harmful algal blooms.