This week an EU research and innovation project demonstrated a AjiMathew KristiinaOksman 30813Bio4Energy researchers Aji Mathew and Kristiina Oksman head up an EU-sponsored project designed to make bio-based filters for water purification. Photo by courtesy of the Luleå University of Technology.
technology that will scale up production of a bio-based composite material which, project researchers hope, will be used in future to make filters for water purification. The demonstration was performed at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in Sweden, where the material made from biorefinery residue was first put together by Bio4Energy scientists, a B4E expert on nanotechnological applications of bio-based products confirmed.
  
LTU professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in spring 2012 saw her team’s research breakthrough attracting coverage by media outlets around the world, and revealed that the team’s industrial partner, Domsjö Fabriker of Aditya Birla, was showing keen interest in the new material.

Apart from potentially doing away with the problem of how to dispose of the biorefinery’s waste sludge, commercial production of the new material could mean a viable bio-based alternative had been found to petrochemical or metal-based materials in food packaging liners, the researchers said. However, financial support was needed to take production of the promising product from the laboratory scale to volumes that could start making sense to commercial operators, all the while ensuring the process was cost efficient, Oksman explained at the time.

This year an EU-sponsored project, coordinated by B4E scientist This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the LTU, has been looking at a different use for the new material, namely as a filter to purify water from toxic chemicals contained in heavy metals, pesticides or fertilizers.

Composed of members such as LTU, the Imperial College London, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Processum Biorefinery Initiative and further academic and industrial actors, NanoSelect will develop “functional membranes/filters with anti/low-fouling surfaces for water purification through selective adsorption on bio-based nano-crystals and fibrils”, according to the project website.

This month the project took a decisive step forward by realising pilot trials designed to take production of the new material from the laboratory to pilot scale, moving from two-to-15 kilogrammes of product output per day, according to Forskning.se. Production of a nano-crystalline material, also made from forest-sourced biorefinery residue, was increased from 50 to 640 grammes a day.

“There has been a great deal of interest from the side of industry, not least because our bionano-filters are expected to make a real difference in water purification, not least at the international level”, the assistant professor Mathew said in the Forskning.se report.

“Large-scale production of nanocellulose will be necessitated by an increased [demand] for bio-based nano-particles [which could go into] a range of different products”, Oksman added.

A statement from LTU said that work to turn the new materials into nano-filters is underway at the Imperial College London.

Swedish public television, Sveriges television, covered the demonstration trial with a clip in Swedish, availble below. Published with permission.


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