Winner of Tyler Environmental Prize announced

Gatze Lettinga, a Dutch scientist known for his invention of anaerobic wastewater treatment and his determination to make it universally available, will receive the 2007 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

The Tyler Prize executive committee and the international environmental community will honor Lettinga at a ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Friday, April 20 at 7 p.m. The award consists of a $200,000 cash prize and a gold medal.

On Thursday, April 19, at 2 p.m., Lettinga will give a public lecture at the Davidson Conference Center of the University of Southern California, which administers the prize.

Lettinga's technology, known as Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB), stands behind three quarters of the world's anaerobic systems for treating industrial and residential wastewater.

By design, the core technology is freely available. Lettinga chose not to patent his invention.

"The UASB-reactor concept is still completely open for everyone, consequently particularly also for the citizens in developing countries, and that is what I wanted and still want," Lettinga stated recently.

Jules van Lier, one of Lettinga's successors at Wageningen University, wrote in a nomination letter: "Professor Lettinga can be characterized as a modest and honest man giving highest priority to the quality of life of the billions of poor people on this planet who are deprived of clean drinking water and sanitation."

Compared to energy-intensive traditional processes, anaerobic treatment actually produces energy in the form of methane gas, which can be reused as fuel. In addition, the method yields much less residue than traditional wastewater treatment, while processing 10 to 20 times as much waste.

If sewage and organic refuse in the Los Angeles basin were processed anaerobically (at present only some biosolids receive anaerobic treatment) and all methane captured for reu

Contact: Carl Marziali
University of Southern California

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