Our Research Sustainable hydrogel microparticles for the removal of micropollutants from water

Challenge:

Can we build cost-effective industry-scale processes using sustainable hydrogel microparticles to rapidly remove micropollutants from water?

Research Strategy

  • Test hydrogel microparticles for the treatment of real wastewater samples contaminated with organic and inorganic micropollutants ¬†
  • Rapidly optimize microparticle composition for representative wastewater samples using machine learning
  • Build prototype units to treat water and regenerate spent absorbent¬†
  • Perform technoeconomic analyses and market research to formulate a preliminary business plan

Project description

J-WAFS Solutions Program

Micropollutants are contaminants that occur in low concentrations in the environment, yet continuous exposure and bioaccumulation of micropollutants make them a cause for concern. Each specific micropollutant contributes little to water pollution in terms of mass, but low concentrations and chemical diversity make it difficult to remove micropollutants from water inexpensively.

Professor Doyle and his team are developing a technology that uses sustainable hydrogel microparticles optimized with machine learning to remove micropollutants from water.  The microparticles are long-lasting, reusable, and show faster uptake than commercial materials, thereby benefiting society by enabling access to clean water (UN Sustainable Development Goal 6). Economically, the technology is a new offering that will find applications in numerous large markets where micropollutant elimination is vital, in the form of municipal and industrial water treatment equipment ($12.8 billion in 2021), and household water purification systems ($5.85 billion in 2021).

The J-WAFS Solutions grant will help the researchers build and test prototype pilot-scale water treatment systems to clean simulated and real wastewater using sustainable hydrogels. The team plans to identify the best use cases and customers, utilizing commercialization support activities associated with the Solutions grant to spin out a startup company.

Additional Details

Impact Areas

  • Water
  • Climate & Sustainability

Research Themes

  • Water Purification & Desalination
  • Technology & Commercialization
  • Sustainability & Adaptation

Year Funded

  • 2022

Grant Type

  • Solutions Grant

Status

  • Ongoing