Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2015 June JCU algae researchers hope to scoop the pool

01/06/2015
JCU algae researchers hope to scoop the pool
James Cook University’s ground-breaking algae researchers are hoping to bring home one of Australia’s top environment prizes later this week.

JCU algae researchers hope to scoop the pool

Professor Rocky de Nys and Dr Nicholas Paul

Photo: Richard Davis, JCU

James Cook University’s ground-breaking algae researchers are hoping to bring home one of Australia’s top environment prizes later this week.

The Centre for Macroalgal Resources & Biotechnology (MACRO) at JCU, Townsville is a finalist in this year’s United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Awards.

The team has been shortlisted in the Excellence in Sustainable Water Management category for its innovative research into using algae to treat wastewater.

Dr Nicholas Paul said the management of urban, agricultural and industrial water is increasingly under scrutiny as populations place greater demands on natural water resources.

“Water management is one of the key environmental issues and challenges of our time, and it’s timely to partner with organisations that have shared goals of developing cost-effective water treatment strategies to enable sustainable growth,” Dr Paul said. "We are trying to flip the notion that wastewater is just a liability. Our approach is to show that it is actually an untapped resource."

Professor Rocky de Nys said macroalgae (large, multi-cellular algae) can rapidly strip nutrients and metals from wastewater, even at low concentrations. They then can be converted into valuable products, including animal feeds, renewable fuels, fertiliser, and human food.

“The MACRO Centre is the first in Australia to integrate macroalgae into urban wastewater, aquaculture wastewater, and metal-rich industrial wastewater from energy generation,” Prof de Nys said. "We have been able to do this because of the strong backing from key industry partner MBD Energy and from the Federal Government. This support has allowed us to implement innovative technologies for the sustainable management of water."

The United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Awards are held in conjunction with World Environment Day on June 5 and celebrate innovative and outstanding environmental programs and initiatives across Australia, as well as the critical work of environmental

leaders.

The World Environment Day Awards 2015 winners will be announced at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne, on Friday June 5.

Media contact:

Dr Nicholas Paul (07) 4781 6842/0418 600 255

Professor Rocky de Nys (07) 4781 4412/0408 022 174