Canadian Municipal Water eBulletin

Steve Bonk Scholarship 2016 – Ryan LaRue, McMaster University

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Every year CWWA awards the Steve Bonk Scholarship to a deserving Canadian university student working in water and/or wastewater research. The scholarship honours our former CWWA Executive Director Steve Bonk and awards a prize of $500. We were excited to receive a great many applications this year, but our scholarship review committee agreed upon one standout application.

Ryan LaRue is a fifth-year Chemical Engineering and Management student at McMaster University. His work as an undergraduate researcher in the Chemical Engineering Department has enabled him to contribute meaningfully to the field of wastewater treatment. The results of his research include the creation of a new optimization technique for the treatment of various wastewaters. This technique enables researchers and plant technicians to better evaluate the flocculants used to remove suspended solids from wastewater effluents. Their intention is to reduce wastewater treatment costs and to better purify the process effluents. He has also investigated new ways to detect and track polymer flocculants in real wastewater systems. Such investigations are in hopes that researchers and operators will be able to better understand water and wastewater systems in order to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve our water quality. 

The key developments of Ryan’s research involved the creation of a high-throughput protocol to efficiently screen libraries of polymers. Further, sludge dewaterability is quantified using a simple technique called capillary suction time (CST). He feels the implications of his team’s work are significant economically, but are also important regarding the protection of water quality. More effective screening of polymers can improve overall wastewater flocculation, which in turn may produce higher-purity discharge water — better for the aquatic environment. These findings were presented in a research paper entitled "The microscale flocculation test (MFT)—a high-throughput technique for optimizing separation performance," of which Ryan was the first author. His subsequent research has involved finding ways to accurately detect, track and analyze these flocculants in real wastewater systems.

Congratulations Ryan! We look forward to your continuing contributions to our sector and expect to see you as a CWWA member one day soon. 

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