Student looks for new water treatment solutions

28 May 2010 | Story by Newsroom

Dyllon Randall Safe water: Dyllon Randall has adapted a technology to treat waste-water streams from mines.

Dyllon Randall chose chemical engineering as a career because he enjoys the hands-on nature of the work and the potential benefits it has for the economy.

That inspired him to conduct his doctoral work on eutectic freeze crystallisation, which has now landed him the prestigious Industrial Water Division of Water Institute of South Africa/South African Industrial Water Association Biennial Award for his outstanding contribution to industrial water technology. But it is also likely to contribute in making the mining industry - a key player in the South African economy - not just more profitable but also environmentally friendlier.

The technology being researched is used to treat mine-water waste, specifically those coming from waste water in the coal mining industry. It involves taking waste water, cooling it down until ice and salt form at the same time.

"The technology shows that we can reduce the amount of waste by up to 97%, and produce potable water (that can be sold to the nearby communities), pure calcium sulphate and pure sodium sulphate," explains Randall, a researcher in the Crystallisation & Precipitation Unit.

"This may not be the cheapest treatment method at the moment, but it is definitely a sustainable one. It solves the problem of waste water generation now rather than leaving it for future generations to solve."

A pilot plant is being designed and it is planned to be up and running sometime next year.

Last year Randall also won the prize for best student paper at the International Mine Water Conference.

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