University of Calgary

University unveils innovative PCB cleanup system

Submitted by darmstro on Tue, 2013-09-10 15:45.

Sept. 20, 2013

Scientists from the University of Calgary have developed a safer and more effective way to clean up dangerous PCBs from the environment using - for the first time ever - ultraviolet light to clean up land contaminated by the hazardous chemical compound. The technology, which is ready for use after 13 years in research and development in a $1 million project, will be unveiled to media for the first time on Wednesday.

Currently, cleaning PCBs from land requires the transportation of contaminated soil to one of two specialized incinerators in the country. It is time-consuming, expensive and increases the risk of exposure to PCBs for workers and for potential spills on public highways. The university's new technology significantly improves the cleanup process. It is housed in a 15 metre-shipping container and uses UV rays for on-site cleanup. It is safer, less expensive and the decontaminated soil is safely returned to its original location.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were widely used around the world before they were banned in 1979 when research showed they can cause serious health issues. To this day, there are thousands of tonnes of PCBs still in the environment. The University of Calgary project was made possible by significant funding from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and was completed in partnership with SAIT Polytechnic, TransCanada Corp. Innovate Calgary and IPAC Services Corp.

WHAT: Photo opportunity and media tour of new PCB cleanup technology

WHEN: September 11, 2013, 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Innovate Calgary, Alastair Ross Technology Centre, 3533 31 St NW

WHO: Gopal Achari, professor of civil engineering, University of Calgary

Cooper Langford, professor of chemistry, University of Calgary

Jim Wilson, licensing manager, Innovate Calgary

Vita Martez, senior research associate, Environmental Technologies, Applied Research and Innovation Services, SAIT Polytechnic

Darion Byerley, environmental specialist, TransCanada Corp.