Realizing that efforts to reduce the release of heavy metal contamination in industrial waste have not taken seriously, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has come out with a new innovation that can absorb heavy metals that are hazardous to man through the use of green technology made from fungal and local industrial waste.

NEW DISCOVERY...Assoc. Prof Mashitah Mat Don (right) and co-researcher Yus Azila Yahya showing the product known as ‘Green BioSorbent for Heavy Metals Removal' (PycnoSORB)

The product known as ‘Green BioSorbent for Heavy Metals Removal’ (PycnoSORB) was created by Assoc. Prof. Mashitah Mat Don, from the School of Chemical Engineering, USM.

According to Assoc. Prof. Mashitah Mat Don, PycnoSORB has been tested and it can filter almost all hazardous metals in industrial waste before being released into ecosystem.

“Most of the waste treatments currently used by the industry are based on precipitation, evaporation and absorption by ion exchange resin methods and they incur a high cost. However, through PcynoSORB, heavy metals can be separated using fungal and recyclable industrial waste. This can reduce the cost for the process,” she said while chairing the special media conference related to the research at the Chancellery Conference Room, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

She added that PycnoSORB is cheap and easy to produce, fast and can absorb heavy metals at a low wastage concentration. Furthermore, it can be recycled 5 times for every usage.

“The cost needed for this absorbent is only RM50 for every 5 litres of industrial waste compared to the usual method that cost RM200 for every 5 litres,” she said.

According to Assoc. Prof. Mashitah, PycnoSORB does not have negative effects on the environment or humans and it has the potential to be used by the automotive, electronics and coating industries which are directly involved in the process of segregating heavy metals from the industrial waste produced.

The research, carried out with co-researchers, Prof. Subash Bhatia and Yus Azila Yahya from the School of Chemical Engineering was funded by a USM Research grant of RM 40 000. Amongst others, the innovation received the Gold medal and the Special Award for Best Invention at the 39th International Exhibition of Inventions, Geneva, Switzerland, held from 4-12 April 2011.

Published: 31 May 2011

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