The scientists behind pioneering technology that uses a whisky by-product to treat contaminated land have been announced runners up in a contest for Britain’s brightest researchers.
Dr Leigh Cassidy, Dr Graeme Paton and Professor Ken Killham – the University of Aberdeen researchers behind DRAM – were awarded £10,000 in the Research Councils' Business Plan Competition.
The Dragons' Den style contest saw researchers pitch their ideas to a panel of experts as viable business propositions worthy of investment.
The Aberdeen team were delighted to secure financial backing for DRAM – Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants, which is a unique and environmentally friendly method of removing multiple pollutants from contaminated water.
Dr Cassidy said: "We were absolutely delighted that DRAM was recognised in such a prestigious UK wide competition.
"There were hundreds of entrants to the competition and we were delighted when we made it to the handful of finalists who all had really brilliant ideas.
"To have been made a runner up underscores the importance and potential of DRAM which could really put Scotland at the forefront of remediation technologies."
Dr Paton added: "We are also indebted to the financial backing we had from the Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Programme which helped with the training and innovation that we required to get this far."
DRAM involves the use of an organic by-product derived from Scotland's national drink. The by-product is put in a container then placed in contaminated water 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.
The team is committed to applying this technology in an international context and are aware of the need for applied and sustainable solutions in the developing world where the impacts of the pollutants are so apparent.
· The Research Councils' Business Plan Competition was judged on Monday.