Leading RGU research aims to solve global drinking water shortage

Thursday 16 March 2023

The research team from PALS involved in this project
Robert Gordon University (RGU) has launched a new video series to help showcase the breadth of high impact research that is being undertaken throughout the University.

From science to business and social issues to health, Research Revealed will shine a spotlight on schools from every corner of RGU in mini-documentary style videos and further enhance the University’s commitment to growing its culture of research.

Launched this week, and coinciding with British Science Week, the first insight covers a global research project at RGU’s School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences (PALS).

The research explores the possibility of using natural product to combat Earth’s increasing shortage of safe, reliable drinking water, caused in part by cyanobacterial toxin contamination.

The method includes biochar, produced from waste plant material that is burnt to form something similar to charcoal, used as a solid surface where natural microbes live and degrade toxins in water.

This solution would be a far more cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable option for low and middle-income countries to adopt, effectively cutting out the middleman which can limit the accessibility of drinking water for millions around the world.

Work began on the research in 2021 and is still ongoing now, including partnerships with fellow researchers and institutions in Sri Lanka and Brazil, nations that both suffer from clean water issues.

Key to the project in Aberdeen is Linda Lawton, Professor in environmental microbiology at RGU. In the video she explains that at the research mission’s fundamental core is to produce a sustainable solution for all.

“It’s all wrapped together. The sustainability, the cost-efficiency. It’s wrapped together with actually looking after the people. The UN Sustainability Goals - fresh water for all, clean drinking water for every person – we’ll never achieve that through building bigger and better, huge water treatment plants.

“These can be important for city environments but so much of the population are in smaller rural communities where they’re literally collecting water on a small scale, and if we can do that, we can transform the lives of many people.”

RGU’s research is focused on making a positive impact on the world by applying collaborative interdisciplinary research expertise to improve quality of life, deliver innovative solutions for business and industry, and contribute towards global sustainability.

The University’s research strategy is focused on growing the quality and impact of its research excellence around four key themes - inclusive and creative societies; the environment, energy and sustainability; health and wellbeing; and living in a digital world.

The first episode of Research Revealed, ‘Clean Water, Green Future: The Story of Bio-Based Treatment’, can be viewed on RGView, YouTube and across social media.

Image contains: Len Montgomery, Research Technical Services Officer, RGU; Prof. Linda Lawton, Environmental Microbiology, RGU; Prof. Christine Edwards, Applied Microbiology, RGU; Dr Jane Moore, Research Fellow, RGU.

Cookie Consent