In its homeland, a dram of Scotch whisky is sometimes treated as an almost magical elixir, capable of healing wounds and soothing hearts.
Barrels of Scotch whisky age in a distillery warehouse. Image by Nicor
While there may be no real magic in whisky, there appears to be some alchemy in one of its by-products. A by-product from whisky production has just been shown to clean contaminated water and soil.
Aberdeen University scientists have created the cleverly named DRAM (Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants). Their methods are still an official secret, but they say that the new process will revolutionize site cleanups. They will not release the name or type of the by-product they use at the moment because they plan to commercialize the product.
Current cleanup techniques can be expensive and take forever. Different types of pollution must generally be cleaned in different ways, costing extra time and money. DRAM, however, can clean up heavy metals, pesticides, and even chlorine pollution at the same time.
The scientists have said that the product is all natural, and that the by-product could be obtained from a lot of food and drink manufacturers. The current by-product was obtained from the Glenfiddich distillery on Speyside.
Soil toxicologist Dr Graeme Paton said: “Currently we are using the by-product of Scotland’s most famous export but our technology can utilize 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 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.”
Any fast and effective environmental clean up technology would indeed stand to make a hefty profit. In the UK alone there are more than 330,000 contaminated sites, mostly the sites of disused factories and industrial buildings. Cleaning contaminated sites costs an estimated £1.2 billion every year in the UK.
Info from Telegraph