Scots turn to whisky in battle to clean contaminated sites

Scottish scientists have developed a technology to clean contaminated land and water which relies on a by-product of the whisky-making process.

The famous Glenfiddich distillery provides the raw materials for the process

The famous Glenfiddich distillery provides the raw materials for the process

The Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple Pollutants - affectionately known by its creators as the DRAM - is said to remove a variety of contaminants cheaper and faster than most current clean-up techniques.

The designers claim that the DRAM is the first technology that can remove metal contaminants at the same time as degrading organic pollutants such as pesticides.

No intervention is required to apply it to contaminated sites as it can use existing infrastructure and remain in place unobtrusively for years.

Because no earthworks are needed its application is relatively cheap meaning that low-value land that might not have been regenerated before could now be considered.

The process currently uses a whisky by-product from the Speyside distillery of Glenfiddich, but the research time is confident that other food and drink manufacturing processes could prove an equally fruitful source of raw materials.

The process has been developed by researchers from the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Paton, a leading soil toxicologist at the university, said: "Currently we are using the by-product of Scotland's most famous export but our technology can utilise other by-products from the food and beverage industry.

"The clean up of contaminated groundwater is an absolutely massive global market. The technology that we have developed here at Aberdeen is environmentally friendly, sustainable and has the potential to put Scotland at the forefront for remediation technologies.

"It is not just the deployment that is novel but also the underpinning technology to predict the success.

"This is a genuine Scottish invention using traditional Scottish produce but has the capability of being applied to a significant global market. And in this global market we have the chance to be technology and innovation leaders."

Sam Bond


Food & drink | Scotland


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