Ze­o­lite not kryp­tonite to the res­cue

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Pa­cific Blue Min­er­als in Toko­roa is lead­ing the way when fight­ing pol­lu­tion in our wa­ters.

The com­pany has been given the exclusive li­cence to man­u­fac­ture for sale and global dis­tri­bu­tion, the mod­i­fied min­eral ze­o­lite which is de­vel­oped by Crown Re­search In­sti­tute, Scion.

Mod­i­fied ze­o­lite is mar­keted un­der the trade name Aqual P by Blue Pa­cific Min­er­als and has the po­ten­tial to be a pow­er­ful tool in clean­ing up lakes.

Scion re­searcher Robert Lei ex­plained how it worked. ‘‘Ze­o­lites are a crys­tal-like min­eral with chem­i­cal prop­er­ties and a honey- comb lat­tice struc­ture that give it amaz­ing ab­sorp­tive prop­er­ties. We have mod­i­fied it to specif­i­cally tar­get and lock up phos­pho­rus.

‘‘Ba­si­cally the prod­uct is ap­plied to the water sur­face and as it sinks it ab­sorbs phos­pho­rus then set­tles on the bot­tom to act as a sed­i­ment cap. This cap blocks fur­ther re­lease of phos­pho­rus from the sed­i­ments, lock­ing the phos­pho­rus in,’’ Mr Lei said.

Blue Pa­cific mar­ket­ing de­vel­op­ment man­ager Bernard No­vak said the grow­ing com­pany was half-way through ex­pand­ing its man­u­fac­tur­ing plant.

‘‘ We cur­rently mine

two min­er­als – ze­o­lite and per­lite. Per­lite is used mainly in cryo­gen­ics. Both are unique min­er­als.’’

Mr No­vak said the agree­ment was ‘‘ex­cit­ing times’’ for the com­pany which em­ploys 20 peo­ple with four more jobs pos­si­ble.

‘‘De­mand has grown to the point that ex­pan­sion is nec­es­sary. This district is unique re­gard­ing the min­er­als found here.’’

A large chunk of the min­er­als was ex­ported Mr No­vak said.

The com­pany is in talks with the South Waikato District Coun­cil about cre­at­ing a rail side which will link the com­pany with the Port of Tau­ranga. The facts Ze­o­lite is a vol­canic min­eral tra­di­tion­ally used in ab­sorbency mar­kets, such as for chem­i­cal spill prod­ucts, and in sports turf and cat lit­ter. Now mod­i­fied by Scion sci­en­tists based in Ro­torua, the trans­formed prod­uct acts as a bind­ing agent, at­tract­ing phos­pho­rus and other pol­lut­ing nu­tri­ents in water­ways. By re­mov­ing ex­cess phos­pho­rus and other nu­tri­ents from the water it re­duces the con­di­tions that lead to un­wanted al­gal blooms.

Com­pared to other ma­te­ri­als, mod­i­fied ze­o­lite of­fers sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages. It is highly ef­fi­cient at re­mov­ing phos­pho­rus so less of the min­eral is needed and it also re­moves other prom­i­nent water pol­lu­tants such as ni­tro­gen. New Zealand has good sources of high qual­ity ze­o­lite close to sea ports.

With de­clin­ing water qual­ity a sig­nif­i­cant national con­cern, com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions of mod­i­fied ze­o­lite are promis­ing.

Po­ten­tial mar­kets in­clude treat­ment of lakes, ir­ri­ga­tion reser­voirs, do­mes­tic and com­mer­cial fish ponds and aquar­i­ums, farm dams and troughs, golf course ponds, water stor­age sys­tems in nurs­eries and other ir­ri­ga­tors.

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