Thursday, 8 June 2017

Could trees be the chemical recycling centres of the future?

Maybe UBC would be open to some collaborative research in SEA... FRIM and other regional forestry research groups may be good partners.

Poplar trees on the site of a former landfill in Salmon Arm, B.C.
Could trees be the chemical recycling centres of the future?: Trees are pretty useful to humans: they produce oxygen, provide lumber, and, if a B.C.-based research project is successful, they might help society turn harmful contaminants into useful chemical products like natural fertilizer, insecticides, antibacterials and antioxidants. UBC Okanagan chemistry professor Susan Murch has partnered with local environmental remediation company Passive Remediation Systems Ltd. (PRS) to study how trees can absorb contaminated soil and change it into something usable.

"First, PRS harvests leaves and stems from its poplars and cooks them in a sealed oven to produce "biochar," a solid compound which can be used as material for 3D printing or mixed with compost to form a chemical-rich fertilizer. A by-product of the cooking process is "wood vinegar" — a steam extract that Murch and her team will analyse for useful molecules."

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