Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Standardisation of environmental leaching tests in organic matter

In order to facilitate an economical approach to the overall cost of leaching organic matter, a Dutch project has begun to create a standardisation platform of common methodologies.
Standardisation of environmental leaching tests in organic matter
All organic matter has one common characteristic within their matrices, and that is the PH (acidity/alkaline) values. PH values vary, and they are governed by their environmental location, nutrient availability, solubility of toxin ions and their microbial activity. Thus, with so many factors involved, repeated testing of similar matrices presents industry with wasted resources.

Organic matter, whether it is soil, sewage, waste or construction materials have to be leached before it can be used. The process of leaching is when water is passed through organic matter so that various soluble substances can be separated for the purposes of safety or further manufacturing. One such example is the leaching of Lye (potassium carbonate) from wood ashes, where the resultant is an alkaline solution that is used to manufacture soap.

Leaching methods and their use, are continually increasing in a wide range of applications, and this has led to the repetition of testing similar methods in different environments. At the present there is a substantial amount of information available on a worldwide basis, but unfortunately not much of it is accessible. Given this potential for providing mass information, a Dutch project sought to harmonise the collated data so that substantial savings could be made.

The innovation behind this project is the unique compilation of the information behind the leaching and/or extraction methods utilised. From the basic modes of leaching test data representation, the common parameters used in testing can be identified; which in turn can assist in the transparency of future environmental regulations. This therefore calls for a horizontal standardisation platform where all the known methods can be compiled, and thus provide a harmonious and balanced set of regulations.

The senior scientist who is behind this innovative project, expects that the evaluation of testing information in the construction environment should be completed later this spring. Further evaluation testing of other organic matter and their matrices will ultimately provide a more sophisticated level of testing. This in turn will benefit industry in terms of financial resources used, and assist in predicting the risk impact on the environment as a whole.
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