Civil engineering research recognized at BC Legislative Assembly

At the BC Legislative Assembly on the technology for recycling of phosphorus from sewage, MLA Ralph Sultan spoke of Civil Engineering Professor Don Mavinic’s research on phosphorus recycling.

Dr. Mavinic and his team of UBC engineers recently demonstrated how they extract phosphorus and convert it into a slow-release fertilizer at Annacis Island. Sultan was present at the demonstration and said that “UBC’s engineering group’s newly developed technology is eye opening. I was delighted to witness this new technology.”

Below is Sultan’s full statement on UBC engineering’s phosphorus research from the Second Session, 40th Parliament official report of debates of the legislative assembly (hansard) on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, Morning Sitting Volume 11, Number 3 Statements

(Standing Order 25B)


R. Sultan: There’s a critical environmental balance between how we grow our food, what we choose to eat and what we dump into the sea. My constituent Donald Mavinic led a team of UBC engineers developing a new technology which recycles a vital element in our food chain, phosphorus. Agriculture depends on phosphate fertilizers. We eat vegetables and meat, excrete phosphorus-rich waste down the 100, as they say in the U.K., and it heads for the ocean, shrugging off conventional wastewater treatment — forming concrete, or struvite, which plugs up pumps and drains — and is lost forever in the sea. Some believe we will eventually run out of the stuff.

Funded by Metro Vancouver and the federal government, the environmental engineering group at UBC recently demonstrated theft fourth-generation reactor to an admiring audience, including me, at Annacis Island. They extract the phosphorus and convert it into slow-release fertilizer.

These facilities have been operating in Saskatoon and Portland for several years. Metro Vancouver, which funded this important innovation, are thinking about it. Congratulations, Metro Vancouver, but keep in mind it’s always the shoemaker’s children who go barefoot.