Lack of access to clean water is predicted to affect 47% of the world’s population by 2030. Contamination of water supplies by industrial micropollutants such as metal ions, pesticides and pharmaceuticals is a major contributor to water stress. Micropollutants make up just 0.04% of water pollutants in non-treated water, yet have disproportionate adverse effects, causing nervous system diseases and cancer. Many micropollutants accumulate in animals and humans; Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) has been found in the blood, breast milk and liver of citizens in Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and US. They are extremely persistent – PFOS has an environmental half-life of over 3.8 years – and exceptionally difficult to capture.
The current gold standard for micropollutant removal – membrane based reverse osmosis and nanofiltration – requires very high pumping energy to remove pollutants. Adsorbent solutions are currently not selective enough and become fouled by natural organics. Making adsorbents with increased selectivity proportionately increases production cost. Oxidation processes are also highly energy intensive, struggle to tackle stable contaminants, require more chemicals to remove pollutants, and form toxic by-products, further contaminating discharge water.
Customem have developed a customisable selective nanocellulose media called CustoMem Granular Media (CGM), a highly cost effective and efficient next generation nanofilter that selectively captures problematic micropollutants, like man-made organics in industrial wastewater, and enables recycling of pollutants for the circular economy using sustainable bio-manufacturing.
Customem’s long term vision is to harness nature’s capacity to make biomaterials to promote human health in alignment with sustainable development goals.