Engineering pollution solution

Brenda Parker is one of seven people to win a share of a £101,000 grant
Brenda Parker is one of seven people to win a share of a £101,000 grant

Leyton resident wins prestigious award to develop new system of water decontamination

A biochemical engineer from Leyton has been awarded a grant to help develop her innovative idea for decontaminating polluted water.

Heavy metal pollution from old industrial sites is a significant issue worldwide, with 1,500km of rivers affected by it in the UK. These metals, if untreated, can accumulate in the food chain. But bioremediation systems use micro-organisms to convert contaminants into less toxic forms.

Dr Brenda Parker wants to create a prototype of a sustainable bioremediation system that will decontaminate water using micro-organisms. It will use ceramic tiles inlaid with algae, which can help capture contaminants in water. Additionally, by collaborating with architects, Dr Parker hopes to show that these ceramic tile-based systems can be “beautiful as well as functional”.

The Leyton engineer is one of seven people nationwide to win a share of a £101,000 pot of money provided by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to boost research and development in the UK. Dr Parker said: “I’m really grateful to the trust, as my Churchill fellowship has been a huge catalyst for my interdisciplinary work that bridges biology and design. The award will enable me to work with a team to develop our prototype system and begin to test how this might perform in the field.”

Dr Parker is a lecturer in biochemical engineering at University College London. In 2014 she was awarded a Churchill fellowship to explore biological approaches to land and water restoration. She spent ten weeks in Mongolia, China and India, visiting contaminated sites. Since her fellowship, she has been researching algal bioremediation.