Biosolids resource management centre launches at RMIT

Biosolids resource management centre launches at RMIT

Training the next generation of biosolids researchers is a key focus of a new centre to transform the management of Australia’s biosolids resource, launched this week at RMIT University.

The $14 million Australian Research Council Training Centre for the Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource is based at RMIT’s Bundoora campus.

Biosolids are a by-product of the wastewater treatment process that can be used as fertiliser, in land rehabilitation or as a construction material. However, around 30% of the by-product globally goes to landfill or is stockpiled.

RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, said the centre represented a major investment in tackling the challenge.

“This centre builds on RMIT’s strengths in solving complex problems through our research and innovation, our connections with industry and commitment to training the next generation of biosolids managers for the water sector,” Drummond said.

“With our centre partners, we will deliver world-class and innovative technological solutions and knowledge to train the next generation of biosolids practitioners in cutting-edge, transformational approaches, and to guide best practice in the biosolids sector.”

The first cohort of researchers will include 11 postdoctoral researchers and 14 postgraduate students, with trainees drawn from the postgraduate student group to complete industry-based research over at least 12 months.

“Gaining industry experience will greatly enhance their skills and networks, the relevance of their research and help them transition to being work ready,” Drummond said.  

Leaders from RMIT and ARC at the launch of the centre Leaders from RMIT and the ARC gathered for the official launch of the new centre.

As well as training the next generation of biosolids managers, the centre will also play a key role in advancing fundamental and translational biosolids research.

Centre Director, Distinguished Professor Andrew Ball, said the research would provide new opportunities for a range of Australian industries.

“This centre will provide significant benefits to industry in terms of the economic value of new applications and market opportunities as well as delivering cost-savings – all in an environmentally-friendly manner,” he said.

“In Australia, 1.5 million tonnes of wet material are produced every year. This is a valuable resource that can contribute to a more successful circular economy.

“Our projects will investigate how we can best manage this valuable resource across the entire process, from treating biosolid waste, transportation, legislation and improved use as a resource that will benefit our agricultural and land management industries.”

Australian Research Council Acting Chief Executive Officer, Kylie Emery, welcomed the launch of the centre.

“This training centre will be vital in creating innovative products and knowledge for the biosolids industry, and it will be a place where researchers can participate in graduate level training in the essential Industrial Transformation Priority areas of food and agribusiness, and advanced manufacturing, right here in Australia.”

The centre’s leading industry partners range from water management authorities and sustainable energy companies to environmental protection agencies and agricultural industry members. 

Partner universities include the Universities of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Imperial College London and the University of Arizona.

 

Story: Diana Robertson, Gosia Kaszubska

 

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