SmartDetox - Removal of organic micropollutants from water

01 October 2020 → 30 September 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Ecotoxicology
  • Engineering and technology
    • Environmental microorganism biotechnology
micropollutants (eco)toxicity biological degradation
Project description

An increasing problem in our freshwater resources is the occurrence of organic micropollutants (OMPs). OMPs are organic chemicals with highly variable structures, which occur at trace concentrations (μg – ng/L range) but can yield important (eco)toxicological and/or human health effects. OMPs often occur as mixtures and include pesticides, natural and synthetic hormones, pharmaceuticals, and others. Current dissipation approaches involve advanced treatment that are costly and show high environmental impact. They are energy-intensive, use high amounts of chemicals, and/or result in toxic waste. SmartDetox aims at developing sustainable cost-efficient smart advanced water treatment technology tailored for removing/detoxifying mixed OMPs at crucial points of the human water cycle. Novel, plasma-based oxidative degradation processes and dedicated microbial degradation for OMP destruction/detoxification will be combined with smart membrane technology. Innovative analytical methods to quantify and characterize the OMPs and their transformation products will be developed and combined with (eco)toxicological measurements to support the optimization of the removal technology and create opportunities for monitoring. SmartDetox has economic and socio-economic relevance. Municipal waste water treatment and drinking water companies are aware of the importance of OMPs and of the upcoming European legislation, and technology providers, such as environmental engineering companies, membrane and oxidation technology companies and analytical companies, show interest in the technologies developed in SmartDetox. As for its socio-economic impact, SmartDetox will contribute at reducing OMP concentrations in surface water and hence at implementing the Water Framework Directive. It will lead to safer drinking water and direct water reuse thereby releasing water stress linked with climate change to increasing life quality.