A Time of Waste - Sustainable Environmental Geoscience Solutions
Chris Greenwell, Professor of Geochemistry, Durham University
I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2003, using green chemistry principles to prepare heterogeneous catalysts and studied their reactivity using computer simulations. This was followed by a post at UCL, using massive computational simulations to obtain mechanical and structural properties of claypolymer composites. In 2005, looking for a new challenge, I ran a self-funded group at the School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales, where we developed microalgae biofuels with Shell. In 2007 I was elected the Addison Wheeler Fellow, Durham University where I studied early Earth geochemistry. In 2010 I was made lecturer in Geoenergy in the Department of Earth Sciences, rising to Professor by 2015 and receiving the Max Hey medal of the Mineralogical Society along the way.
The circular economy and waste re-use are topical subjects. To minimise depletion of natural resources, recycling and re-use of waste materials delivers cost savings through reducing disposal costs and generate revenue benefits from derived products. As well as waste, using local, sustainably sourced materials can deliver alternatives to engineered materials, especially in developing economies and remote areas. Here, I will look at two case studies. In the first, I will look at the ways an abundant waste material from acid mine drainage, ochre, can be used as a resource at scale for water treatment to remove phosphorous. In the second, I will describe work on using alginate, a biopolymer from seaweed, to clean up metal contaminated water. The legal and economic challenges arising are discussed.
A high-quality version of this seminar will be uploaded to our YouTube channel