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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

American U of Sharjah lands deal with aluminum maker to recycle waste into biochar

By David Schwartz
Published: July 10th, 2018

Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), a leading industrial company based in the United Arab Emirates, has signed an agreement with the American University of Sharjah (AUS) to research the use of organic wastes in improving soil properties for plant growth.

Scientists from the AUS College of Engineering will study the conversion of commonly available organic wastes, such as food and agricultural wastes, into biochar — a highly stable form of carbon used to improve soil quality for growing crops, the company said.

It will be the first research project to comprehensively investigate the potential of organic waste materials found in the UAE for use in biochar. EGA is funding the two-year study to the tune of more than $170,000.

The company is keen to assess the potential of combining biochar with bauxite residue to create soil, which it is already working on with the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences. Bauxite residue will be a by-product of EGA’s under-construction alumina refinery, which is set to begin production during the first half of next year, the company stated.

Noted Abdalla Alzarooni, EGA’s vice president of technology development and transfer: “Finding economic uses for bauxite residue is a challenge for our industry globally. This research with AUS is an important part of our investigations into one potential solution, and we are pleased that we can work with UAE-based scientists on this project.”

At least 150 million tons of bauxite residue is produced annually worldwide, experts estimate, but only a small fraction is currently put to productive use.

Along with its research in biochar, EGA is also currently researching the potential of using bauxite residue in large volume construction materials.

In addition to AUS, EGA’s academic partners include Masdar Institute, Higher Colleges of Technology, Curtin University of Technology, the University of Auckland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Source: Trade Arabia

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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