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Chemical Engineer who Used a Saucepan to Develop a way of Eliminating Radioactive Waste Wins Award

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A Bath chemical engineer who used a saucepan to develop a method of eliminating a source of radioactive waste has won a prestigious award.

Professor Stan Kolaczkowski, of the University of Bath, was jointly given a Highly Commended award for services to the environment at the recent Institution of Chemical Engineers Gala dinner awards in London.

Professor Kolaczkowski, of the Department of Chemical Engineering, helped to develop a way of recovering radioactive isotopes from the waste created from the production of radioactive isotopes used by pharmaceutical firms developing new products.

His work with Amersham plc (now GE Healthcare) began when he tested his ideas using a cooking saucepan. This led to controlled experiments in a specially-designed furnace operating at 1130 degrees centigrade in an oxygen rich environment, and finally to the building of a £20 million recovery plant in Whitchurch, Cardiff. This is the first of its kind and is due to begin work in 2008.

Professor Kolaczkowski said: “When I went on the platform it was like winning an Oscar. I was so proud to represent one of the top chemical engineering departments in the country.”

Professor Kolaczkowski shared the ABB Engineering Services Environment Award with Ian Bonnett from GE Healthcare.

GE Healthcare uses radioactive material, in the form of the hydrogen isotope tritium, in its work producing medical diagnostic and treatment products. The new method cuts the amount of radioactive waste from this process.