TRIALS of new technology to detoxify lochs could lead to a major jobs boost for North Ayrshire, according to the firm behind the plans.

The Scottish Government has approved tests of the Zeolite filtration system on Loch Leven, which has been described as “the most toxic in Scotland”.

The technology has been created by Zeo-Concept ECE, whose UK business director, David McDonald, is based in Dalry.

Ttrials began this week – and if they are successful, they could be rolled out across the country, providing work for two local engineering firms.

David has been working alongside CCS Engineering, based in Irvine’s South Newmoor Industrial Estate, to develop the stainless steel devices for the filters.

Murphy’s Engineering in Kilwinning are also heavily involved – and both firms could see a big employment boost if contracts are approved following the trial.

David said: “We use an organic product called zeolite, which will go into the lake and the water goes through a filter, which takes out phosphates, nitrates and ammonia.

“All the bad things are taken out, the water is purified, and the end result is a fertiliser which can be used by farms.

“We expect the trials to begin soon and if successful, the engineering firms in Irvine and Kilwinning will need a lot more people to make the filters."

He added: “Once that’s done and the purified water returned, what’s left is now fertiliser, which can be used again by farmers.”

David said: “We will need people to do the pumps and the filters, which will be built in Ayrshire.

“And we’re very confident this trial will be a success.”

As well as big projects like loch clearing, it is believed that in future, the Zeolite filters could also be used on a smaller scale in the home, providing cleaner water.

Andy Senior, of CCS Engineering, said: “If we have the recommended machines, we will cut the production time in half. But we will need people to work them.”

Zeo-Concept ECE, whose headquarters are in Sweden, are using zeolite clinoptilolite – a naturally occurring volcanic mineral – in their filters.

When the mineral is exposed to salt water, a chemical reaction occurs, where stone-like zeolites are formed in about 60 different varieties - one of these is the super mineral, Zeolite Clinoptilolite.

A company spokesperson said said: “While it is just a mineral, it is also a purification plant, a nutritional battery, a water reservoir and a chemical catalyst.

“As a result it can be used from everything from agriculture, cultivation and animal husbandry, to slip prevention, sanitation, biogas and water purification.”

David is hoping to get a verdict on the Scottish trials by the end of this month or the start of November.