New SA technology to tackle agricultural waste

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Technology developed in South Australia that will make it more affordable to convert agricultural waste into high value activated carbon could soon be on the market.

Adelaide based company ByGen’s breakthrough product has the potential to convert millions of tonnes of low-value agricultural waste into high value activated carbon, which can be used to remediate contaminated soil and mine sites.

To help the project come to fruition, the company received a $217,000 through the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund (SAECF) – administered by high-tech accelerator, TechInSA.

Activated carbon is used to purify soils and liquids by adsorbing pollutants. It also has the potential to be used in water purification.

Although activated carbon can be made from agricultural wastes, the costs currently associated with it are high. Most activated carbon is made from expensive and non-renewable hardwood or coal, rather than cheap and abundant sources of agricultural waste.

The ByGen process enables on-site conversion of agricultural waste into high-value activated carbon (or biochar), using a compact and mobile unit which operates at a low cost.

The unit can be easily and cost effectively transported to multiple sites.

“The global market for activated carbon is estimated to be worth around US$5 billion annually and is growing rapidly,” said South Australian Innovation and Science Minister Kyam Maher.

“Without this technology we can expect the cost for high value carbon to escalate, as demand for housing grows, increasing the need to use land previously occupied by industry.

“This technology provides South Australia with the opportunity to tap into around $1 billion of revenue annually.”