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Biocatalytic membranes for micro/nano plastic degradation within waste water effluents

Project description

A safer and more efficient way to recycle wastewater

The presence of micro- and nano-plastics in our ecosystems is one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time. With the widespread use of plastic-based materials, these harmful particles are now found in marine and freshwater environments as well as terrestrial ecosystems. Despite their small size, they pose a growing threat to human health and ecosystem services. The EU-funded BMRex project will develop a biocatalyst-based membrane reactor technology to remove micro/nano-plastics from household and industrial wastewater effluents using a combination of enzymes and porous inorganic scaffolds. The technology will be designed to resist biofouling and maximise biocatalytic activity, making it more efficient and safer for in situ wastewater recycling. BMRex aims to transform how society uses plastic, promoting a more sustainable future.


The universal use of different types of plastic-based materials as new products to meet the insatiable global demands of the 20th century has had an unprecedented impact on our evolution as a society. Unfortunately, micro- and nano-plastics are now ubiquitous in marine and freshwater environments, as well as terrestrial ecosystems, where they act as a source of highly detrimental toxic chemicals that negatively affect the environment and human health by interacting with terrestrial organisms that mediate ecosystem services and functions, such as soil dwelling invertebrates, terrestrial fungi and plant pollinators. It is our duty as scientists to provide immediate and appropriate solutions to control the fate and reduce the effects of micro/nano-plastics on our planet.

BMRex will develop entirely new concepts for micro/nano-plastic removal from household and industrial waste water effluents by validating a novel biocatalyst-based membrane reactor technology to degrade plastic waste avoiding further damage. The consortium will produce, test & optimize biocatalytic membrane reactors based on porous inorganic scaffolds functionalized with ionic liquid materials modified for biofouling resistance, plastic affinity and controlled attachment of plastic-degrading enzymes. Interchangeable enzyme species will permit a precise control of stepwise catalytic processes enhanced with artificial cytosis, maximizing activity and stability of the biocatalytic reactions. BMRex will also evaluate the economic and technological viability of this novel technology. With its unique integration of scientific approaches, competences and resources, BMRex has the potential to open up an entirely new technological field.

In the long term, this project aims to enable an in situ, more efficient and safer recycling of waste waters with transformative effects on a society that is currently in the very early phases of transitioning toward an environmentally sustainable use of plastic.

Funding Scheme



Net EU contribution
€ 678 505,00
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (7)

Partners (1)