UBC Researcher gets $25,000 Manning award

September 9, 2010   by PLANT STAFF

Dr. Donald Mavinic, UBC professor and expert in wastewater treatment.
Photo: UBC

CALGARY: The man who developed the technology commercialized by a Vancouver water treatment company to turn phosphorus in wastewater into fertilizer will receive a $25,000 innovation award.

Dr. Donald Mavinic, a University of British Columbia (UBC) researcher and civil engineering professor, who also is a globally recognized world expert in wastewater treatment, is to receive the Dave Mitchell Award of Distinction from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation.


Mavinic’s innovation converts phosphorus that builds up in wastewater pipes into a resource that food crops can’t grow without.

Commercialized by Vancouver-based Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc., the technology takes sewage sludge and uses a fluidized bed chemical reactor to crystallize the phosphorus and ammonia and convert them into struvite. A reactor crystallizes the nutrients, and as chemicals are added, crystal particles build layers, growing into larger spherical pellets, which then settle to the bottom.

When the material comes out of the reactor, the water is removed and it’s run through a fluid-bed dryer for 10 to 15 minutes, emerging in a pellet-sized form.

Crystal Green fertilizer is then bagged in one-ton sacks and shipped off to a distributor for use on golf courses or in nurseries and horticultural facilities.

Mavinic worked out the chemistry and engineering for a phosphorus recovery system with research associate Frederic Koch and graduate, students at UBC.

A demonstration scale Pearl Nutrient Recovery Facility is operating in Edmonton and commercial-scale facilities are in operation at wastewater treatment facilities serving several cities near Portland, Ore.; the region of Suffolk, Va. and, soon, York, Penn. The technology also has been successfully piloted in several locations across North America, and in Asia and Europe.

Mavinic will receive his award in Ottawa on Sept. 17.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation, named after the former Alberta Premier, has provided over $4.2 million in awards over its 29-year history.

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