Graduate research is being conducted in the area of soil remediation technology and wastewater treatment in the fresh cut fruit and vegetable sector.
Soil remediation work concerns soil vapour extraction (SVE) and bioventing to obtain a better understanding of the processes affecting both technologies with respect to the remediation of soil contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons. Currently a primary objective is to determine scale-up factors for transferring bioventing laboratory results to the field. Experiments are being done in the lab with reactors holding either 200 g or 4 kg of soil to determine the degradation rate constant. Comparison of the rate constants allows calculation of the scale-up factors. A predictive correlation to estimate the degradation rate for a variety of soils is also being developed. Modelling SVE and bioventing in a three dimensional setting is also a long term objective. The application of ground penetrating radar (GPR) is being studied to get the applicable input data.
Wastewater treatment focuses on the cost effective treatment of vegetable and fruit wash-water with the goal of water recycling. Treatment methods being investigated included membrane bioreactor (MBR), dissolved air floatation (DAF) and electrocoagulation. Projects involve various industrial partners for on-site treatment options.