From Problem to Product: Wastewater is the solution to phosphorous depletion, says UBC’s Don Mavinic


Recovery and Recycling of Phosphorus

Ten years ago, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now known as Metro Vancouver) brought UBC Civil Engineering Professor Don Mavinic a costly maintenance problem – wastewater pipes clogged with a crusty sludge. At the time, he had no idea the pipe held the basis for a solution to one of the world’s most critical challenges – phosphorus depletion.

Don mavinic (120p)In his quest to solve Metro Vancouver’s costly problem, Mavinic performed a chemical analysis and found that the crusty sludge was composed of the mineral struvite. This ultimately led to the discovery of an innovative system for recovering and recycling phosphorus from wastewater.

“It’s a fundamental shift in how we view waste,” says Mavinic. “It’s not a problem, it’s a resource. It’s a plethora of possibilities.”

National Innovation Awards

Mavinic has received two major national innovation awards: the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation’s David Mitchell Award of Distinction; and shared the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada 2010 Synergy Award, for trailblazing research that led to industry partnerships and economic development.

To Learn More:

To read and download the complete story as published in the Fall 2010 – Winter 2011 issue of Ingenuity, the UBC Faculty of Applied Science Newsletter, click on From Problem to Product.