WHILE many in our community take the time to protest against CSG exploration at Bentley, there is a small company at Evans Head quietly undertaking research that will clean up wastewater produced by CSG mining.
Salty bore water brought to the surface during coal seam gas extraction is one of the biggest problems the industry faces.
Currently that water – sometimes less salty than the ocean, other times much more so – is put in a pond and left to evaporate. There are 8000 such dams in Queensland alone. Alternatively the contaminated water is trucked to a desalination facility where it is processed at great cost.
But at the end of the day there still remains concentrated salt which needs to be dealt with.
“Any salt on arable land renders it unusable,” says Adam Blunn, founder of ABR Processs Development. “There is the potential for floods to disperse the ponded salt.”
While some technologies will evaporate the waste salt and turn it into pool salt, the return for that end product is not economical.
ABR’s technology creates industrial-grade hydrochloric acid that finds a ready market. And a prototype is being constructed that will treat waste salt water at the well head, saving enormous expense.
Beyond this innovation, Adam sees his company moving into the clean-up of water contaminated by heavy metals. Already he has patented a process that converts waste fibre – like bagasse – into a flour-like filter that attracts minute particles of heavy metals.
Another process works on ion exchange to soften huge volumes of industrial water.
“My passion is finding problems, discovering the fix and then getting that process implemented,” he says.
“We proceed with a project if it works across three key areas: It must be economically viable, but it must also have environmental and social sensibilities.”
The small, independent company based in the quiet Evans Head Industrial Estate is literally leading the world when it comes to creating this sort of environmental waste management.
The idea for the technology, which is now being courted by the big players in the CSG industry, was hatched by Adam back in the days when he was still working for the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative. He realised the potential of his acid separation process and left to start his own company, gathering 20 investors along the way and branching out to patent three processes serving five different markets.