Dr Dyllon Randall of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Department of Civil Engineering and Future Water Institute has won the prestigious Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Warner Prize.
This is awarded biennially to people who show “exceptional promise” in sustainable chemical process technology, nuclear technology or in making chemical engineering more accessible to a wider scientific community.
Randall is the fifth winner and the first from Africa to win the award. The senior lecturer in water quality has notched up an impressive catalogue of awards for his trailblazing research that focuses on resource recovery from wastewaters.
A chemical engineer by training, Randall and his postgraduate students have pioneered two world-firsts in sustainable resource recovery systems: a waterless urinal that produces fertiliser and a bio-brick grown from human urine.
IChemE is a global professional engineering institution with around 37 000 members in 100 countries. It was founded in 1922 and awarded a Royal Charter in 1957. The institution works to advance chemical engineering’s contribution worldwide for the benefit of society and supports the development of chemical engineering professionals.
The award was named after Sir Frederick Warner, a founding Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. It’s interesting to note that in 1986 Warner assembled a group of experts, all over 65, to visit the stricken Chernobyl reactor. Later he proposed forming a permanent task force of older scientists prepared to enter areas contaminated after serious nuclear accidents to make initial damage assessments.
Randall was upbeat about the significance of the prize.
"It's great that our work has been acknowledged internationally with this award, but more importantly, it shows us that people are open to the idea of reusing urine. We will continue making science accessible to the public while also creating paradigm shifts in the sanitation field."
“It's great that our work has been acknowledged internationally with this award, but more importantly, it shows us that people are open to the idea of reusing urine.”
National Research Foundation A-rated researcher in wastewater treatment Professor George Ekama nominated Randall for the award, noting his “exceptional research in the field of sustainable sanitations, which has resulted in the world’s first fertiliser-producing urinal that also uses no water”.
Ekama wrote: “He challenges the status quo and disseminates his findings to the broader public and scientific community… In the space of just close to two years since joining the department he has led multiple projects that have resulted in ground-breaking research, numerous awards and four key publications in his field. The core focus of his work has always been sustainability and more recently, sustainable sanitation.
“There is no doubt that Dr Randall’s work has shown exceptional promise in the field of sustainable chemical technologies based on his innovative process to treat and recover value from urine and other wastewaters. His work is already having a positive impact on society.”
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