DRAM researchers battle for top science prize

DRAM researchers battle for top science prize

The Aberdeen team behind new technology that uses a whisky by-product to treat contaminated land has been shortlisted for a top science prize.

Dr Leigh Cassidy, Dr Graeme Paton and Professor Ken Killham -the University of Aberdeen researchers behind DRAM - have made it to the final of the 2007/08 Research Councils' Business Plan Competition.

Battling for a prize of £25,000, the competition challenges researchers to present their ideas to  a panel of experts as viable business propositions worthy of investment.

DRAM - Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants - will be up against, among other ideas, an algorithm to deliver flawless MRI scans and a laser pen that can write circuits into materials.

The final judging and awards ceremony will take place next Monday (October 20) at Chelsea Football Club.

This is the third time that all of the UK's Research Councils have joined together to run the competition.

Dr Cassidy said: "Being nominated for such a prestigious award is a great endorsement of the work we've carried out so far - and for the commercial potential of the technology.

"The clean up of contaminated water is an absolutely massive global market and DRAM has the potential to put Scotland on the map for remediation technologies."

DRAM is a unique and environmentally friendly method of removing multiple pollutants from contaminated water much more quickly and at a fraction of the cost of current methods. 

With the clean up of polluted water at contaminated land sites costing the UK around £1.2 billion pounds a year, the technology has strong commercial potential.

Using an organic by-product derived from Scotland's favourite tipple, a 'passive' organic material is inserted into contaminated water in a device, where it attracts and then breaks down active, harmful solvent pollutants.

Throughout the UK there are thousands of acres of land contaminated by previous use, often as a result of industrial process or activities that have ceased. The conventional method to treat contaminated water involves pumping water out of a site, processing it and then returning it to the ground. 

DRAM simultaneously treats both organic and inorganic Chemicals of Concern (CoCs), a process which previously involved two separate treatments.

With pre-field trials demonstrating a 99.6% success rate, the University of Aberdeen team's technology is at the forefront of a global market. As well as greatly reducing the costs for operators, the technology could help rejuvenate forgotten contaminated sites - where the cost of de-contamination is prohibitively high - reducing the need for new developments and safe-guarding Greenfield sites.  

Further details of the competition can be found at: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/innovation/fundingkt/bpc/default.htm

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