Innovative world-first UC research among Kiwinet awards finalists
Two University of Canterbury innovations are among the 12 finalists selected for the eighth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, designed to celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand’s universities, Crown research institutes and other research organisations.
The University of Canterbury’s Associate Professor Aaron Marshall, co-founder of Zincovery, is commercialising a process to treat the waste generated by the galvanising industry.
The University of Canterbury’s Associate Professor Aaron Marshall, co-founder of Zincovery, is an entrepreneur with a keen interest in solving real-world industrial problems. He is commercialising a process to treat the waste generated by the galvanising industry. This waste is strongly acidic, saturated with dissolved iron and zinc, and an environmental problem.
Currently, this waste is neutralised and landfilled (~1,500,000 litres per year in New Zealand). On average, galvanisers pay NZ$0.50 per litre to dispose of this waste, which is approximately 5-10% of all galvanising costs. This disposable method is environmentally damaging as zinc can leach from these landfills, harming aquatic life. Globally, over $250million per year of zinc is landfilled in this manner – a significant waste of a finite and valuable resource.
Until recently, it was not possible to economically treat this waste to recover the valuable zinc. The key breakthrough came when Associate Professor Marshall, from the University of Canterbury’s Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, applied a non-conventional method to facilitate the separation of zinc from the waste acid. Together with Jonathan Ring (one of Associate Professor Marshall’s masters students, and co-founder of Zincovery), a complete process based around this separation technology has been developed and is in the early stages of commercialisation. This work has been supported by two rounds of PreSeed Accelerator Fund investment from KiwiNet.
Zincovery is also a finalist in Callaghan Innovation’s C-prize 2020 competition which aims to help new companies develop environmental technology with solid commercial potential.