EU funds material to collect micro-pollutants from wastewater

EU funds novel material to collect micro-pollutants from wastewater © Luis Deliz
© Luis Deliz

A novel biomaterial designed to collect micro-pollutants from wastewater has earned a £1.24m (~€1.4m) EU grant for UK-based company CustoMem.

The new material, called CustoMem Granular Media (CGM), is a novel bio-adsorbent which is able to collect micro-pollutants from wastewater selectively. Through CustoMem’s expertise in biomaterials and synthetic biology, the material is able to capture select micro-pollutants such as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).

Compared to traditional adsorbent materials, such as anion-exchange media or granular activated carbon, CGM is able to capture PFCs from wastewater in standard steel tank processing equipment far more cost effectively.

Why was the material awarded a grant?

The material was awarded funding through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, which supports the development of novel and innovative technologies which have the potential to create new markets or revolutionise existing ones.

The European Commission has outlined an ambitious directive on the treatment of wastewater, and published a new roadmap for compliance last year. In its ability to cost-effectively collect micro-pollutants from wastewater, CGM could revolutionise these efforts, and thus was granted funding from the instrument.

The EU grant will support the company in ramping up its testing to demonstrate the viability of CGM at a commercial scale, optimising the material to capture and recycle specific micro-pollutants which commonly cause challenges in industrial wastewater, and bringing the technology to market.

How did the company respond?

CustoMem’s CEO, Henrik Hagemann, said that the effectiveness of the technology has already been demonstrated under laboratory conditions, and speculated that this is why CGM was awarded the development grant.

He said: “Our products’ superior performance and cost-effectiveness have been validated in our laboratory and initial trials with clients.” The applications for a material which can collect micro-pollutants from wastewater are manifold, and could appeal to a range of industrial clients.

Hagemann added that the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding would have a transformative impact on both CustoMem and its new material: “This is a game-changing grant for us. [It] enables us to scale up to industrial pilot trials of greater than 100 m3/day flow rates.”

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