€2 million funding for technological solutions to environmental issues

Date released: Mar 02 2006

The EPA’s Environmental Technologies programme was launched today by the Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr Dick Roche, TD, and attended by EU Environment Commissioner Mr Stavros Dimas. 

The funding awarded to third level institutions and companies will form part of a new initiative to boost the development of an environmental technology industry in Ireland.

Commenting at the launch Dr Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA said, “Many of the technologies being explored by these projects will help tackle specific pressures identified in our state of the environment reporting including air emissions, water discharges and waste.

“Eco-industries such as nanotechnology, membrane technology and biotechnology offer the potential to provide a win-win solution for the economy and the environment”, she continued.  “The funding programme will also assist third level institutions to realise the potential of numerous initiatives and bring them to the market place.”

The projects are funded from revenue from the plastic bag and landfill levy. Some build on the success of the existing EPA Cleaner Greener Production Programme that has provided research and development funding to over 50 industrial projects to reduce the environmental impact of the industry and services sector. 

The EPA research initiative is intended as a forerunner to the national implementation of the EU Environmental Technology Action Plan (ETAP) initiative being actively promoted by the EU Environment Commissioner Mr Stavros Dimas.  The overall objective of ETAP is to promote the development and application of environmental technologies both to improve environmental protection and to increase sustainable economic development.

1. EPA research programme

Over the last ten years, the EPA research programme has supported R&D activities in a range of environment areas. This work is carried out by researchers in universities, colleges, state research organisations, companies and by individuals. Currently, the annual EPA research budget is €7m and is administered through the Environmental Research, Technological Development and Innovation (ERTDI) Programme on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

 The EPA research programme currently funds approximately 400 projects ranging from short desk studies to large multi-annual capability development projects involving several organisations. Over 700 researchers are involved in the programme including over 100 post-graduate scholarships and fellowships to support new researchers. 

2. Environmental Technology Industries/Eco-industries

A recent EU study (Ecotec) indicated that the EU15 environmental technology industry (eco-industries) supply €183 billion of goods and services a year: €127 billion of pollution management and cleaner technology goods and services, and €56 billion related to resources management. Direct employment in the EU15 eco-industries amounts to over 2 million (FTE) jobs.

3. EPA Environmental Technology Programme

The 15 successful projects were:Organisation / Project Leader Project Aim

  • University College Cork / JD Holmes -  Developing materials to absorb and separate metals and nanoparticles from contaminated sources
  • Cork Institute of Technology / N Duffy -  Developing a technology to reduce energy and material consumption in Irish industry
  • NUI Galway / V O’Flaherty - Developing an innovative biotechnology to treat wastewater
  • University of Limerick /T Zhelev - Developing a methodology to assist the (re)design of wastewater treatment plans to achieve greater efficiencies.
  • University College Dublin / Y Zhao - Reuse of alum sludge in constructed wetland to remove phosphorous
  • University College Dublin / M Otte -  Full-scale demonstration constructed wetland treating dairy wastewater
  • University College Cork/ A Ruth - Development of spectroscopic methods for monitoring atmospheric gases
  • NUI Galway / X Zhan - Use of novel bioreactors to treat slaughterhouse wastewater
  • Sustainable Energy Solutions / F Purcell - Study into environmental, economic benefits and barriers of e-diesel usage in the transport sector
  • Circa Group Europe / D Kelly - Preparation of guidelines on taking successful pilot projects to market
  • Clean Technology Centre / T Coakley - Study into why existing environmental technologies are underused

CGPP Phase 3: 

  • JFC Manunfacturing Ltd / J Concannon - Process redesign and diversion of waste plastic streams into new products
  • Ship Company Ltd. / S Bjorsell - Innovative Distillation for highly energy efficient water purification and recovery.
  • Cratlon Ltd. / T Cummins - Developing an innovative sensor with potential for highly energy efficient buildings
  • CELtrak / H McBreen - GPS redesign with potential for improved fuel economy, energy management and illegal waste tracking