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Executive Summary:
The main objective of the CERAMPOL project is to achieve a new generation of smart and low-fouling nanostructured membranes based on ceramic and polymeric materials with enhanced affinity to heavy metals, rare earths and drugs for solving problems of waste water from catalyst and precious metal industries, mining and pharmaceutical industries/hospital respectively. The new filters will be prepared by innovative processes such as electrospinning, sol-gel, coating/printing processes for obtaining multi-layered membranes possessing several key properties such as: antifouling; self-cleaning; selective filtration of drugs and metabolites; catalytic degradation of pharmaceuticals and organics; affinity to heavy metals; and scavenging of precious metals and rare earths.

CERAMPOL will aim to develop a significant advancement in water remediation by providing a new generation of low-fouling and self-cleaning nanostructured membranes able to filter selectively metallic and organic pollutants. Low-fouling and self-cleaning properties will be achieved by innovative piezoelectric and electrospinning technologies. Wastewater contaminated with metal ions and drugs will be efficiently purified with the use of the high affinity membranes that will be developed using molecular engineering approach by sol-gel chemistry and electrospinning. The manufacturing process of the new filters will be optimized and scaled up to semi industrial level for in-situ water treatments in catalyst industry, metal extraction and pharmaceutical and hospital effluents. Furthermore, the development of efficient methods for the recovery of valuable metals such as Ir, Rh, Pt, Ru, Pd, and Au and rare earths will be investigated. The benefits of such technology will be fully assessed in terms of water filtration efficiency and economic and environmental impacts.

During the whole project, the different steps have been achieved to reach the final objective which was the fabrication of a pilot demonstrator to hold de different developed compounds and to test them in different relevant environments with real contaminated effluents.

Additionally, risk assessments of the nanomaterial-based membranes for human and environmental health at the different stages of their entire life cycle were performed. On one hand, the potential risk for workers was mainly found to be influenced by the possibility of respirable compounds (nanofibers or catalyst nanoparticles of ceramic membranes) but the use of respiratory FP3 masks that adequately seal to users’ face would decrease worker exposure to levels close or slightly below the hazard thresholds. On the other hand, the estimated environmental risk characterization ratios showed that the use of both types of membranes is safe to the freshwater compartments.

The CERAMPOL partners disseminated the CERAMPOL activities and results at various conferences and workshops. During the length of the project, several results have been obtained and the partners were in better position to identify exploitable results. This enabled the consortium to identify if the invention meets the patentability criteria and has sufficient commercial potential. The risks and potential obstacles for exploitation were also analysed.

Project Context and Objectives:
Whilst over 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, most of it is unusable for human consumption. In both developing and industrialized countries, a growing number of contaminants are entering water supplies from human activity with consequent impoverishment of natural resources and serious effects on human health. Moreover, the increasing competition among agricultural, industrial, and domestic users will lead to significant increases in the real cost of water. Clean, usable water is becoming a scarce natural resource to be efficiently managed for a sustainable development.

Membrane processes are considered as key technologies for advanced water purification. However most of the traditional membrane filtration systems suffer from fouling and clogging. Although the development of low-fouling and self-cleaning membranes is an intense research area, the prevention of membrane deterioration is still a technical challenge for water filtration processes. Fouling decreases permeate flux and membrane lifespan. Membranes have to be cleaned regularly and replaced when membrane fouling/clogging becomes irreversible. The above leads to an increase in operating and maintenance costs, as well as to a significant decrease in efficiency and output of the treatment.

Heavy metals are considered as one of the most serious environmental contaminants due to their high toxicity and bioaccumulation characteristics. Wastewater containing metal ions such as copper, lead, zinc, chrome, and nickel can be produced by a wide variety of industries such as metal finishing, battery manufacture, electrical cables and electronics/microchip manufacturing, as well as the mining industry. One of the major challenges is the complete and selective retention of ions in continuous and large volume water treatment processes. All metals used in industry have high value, and this is particularly true for precious metals including iridium, rhodium, platinum, ruthenium, palladium or gold as also rare earths such as erbium, ytterbium or yttrium. Precious metals and rare earths are present in waste streams and effluents coming from synthesis processes in the fine chemicals and pharmaceutical industries as also in mining stream. The value of precious metals lost over time can be considerable (up to kilogram amounts), therefore their recovery is of great economic value and of crucial importance to limit dependence of Europe to rich fossil resource countries.

A similar environmental threat is posed by pharmaceuticals of all kinds which are turning up in European water supplies: cholesterol-lowering drugs, cancer treatment drugs, antibiotics, analgesics, hormones, steroids, antiseptics, are just a few of the drugs in the drinking water, lakes, rivers, and streams of Europe. The findings raise important questions about the environmental and human effects of water-borne chemicals, and about the adequacy of the conventional wastewater treatment systems to treat both wastewater and drinking water. At current levels, pharmaceutical residues are unlikely to pose an immediate risk to human health, but the long-term consequences of individual chemicals, and combinations of chemicals, are unknown, especially as concentrations rise. The emergence of multidrug resistance organisms is also attributed to the large quantity and accumulations of drug in waters.

Therefore, a breakthrough in membrane technology is needed to produce cleaner water with significant less costs and energy requirements. Nanotechnology has the potential to contribute to long-term water quality, availability and viability of water resources. CERAMPOL will aim to develop a significant advancement in water remediation by providing a new generation of low-fouling and self-cleaning nanostructured membranes able to filter selectively metallic and organic pollutants. Low-fouling and self-cleaning properties will be achieved by innovative piezoelectric and electrospinning technologies. Wastewater contaminated with metal ions and drugs will be efficiently purified with the use of the high affinity membranes that will be developed using molecular engineering approach by sol-gel chemistry and electrospinning. The manufacturing process of the new filters will be optimized and scaled up to semi industrial level for in-situ water treatments in catalyst industry, metal extraction and pharmaceutical and hospital effluents. Furthermore, the development of efficient methods for the recovery of valuable metals such as Ir, Rh, Pt, Ru, Pd, and Au and rare earths will be investigated. The benefits of such technology will be fully assessed in terms of water filtration efficiency and economic and environmental impacts.

Concept of the CERAMPOL project

The main objective of the CERAMPOL project is to achieve a new generation of smart and low-fouling nanostructured membranes based on ceramic and polymeric materials with enhanced affinity to heavy metals, rare earths and drugs for solving problems of waste water from catalyst and precious metal industries, mining and pharmaceutical industries/hospital respectively. The new filters will be prepared for obtaining multi-layered membranes possessing several key properties such as: antifouling; self-cleaning; selective filtration of drugs and metabolites; catalytic degradation of pharmaceuticals and organics; affinity to heavy metals; and scavenging of precious metals and rare earths. The newly developed membranes will be composed by the combination of three main functional parts (Annex I):

1. The first layer of the CERAMPOL technology will consist of an anti-fouling pre-filter based on polymeric nanofibers. The research on nanofibers and electrospinning will focus on two main fields: nanowebs possessing antifouling properties and functionalized nanofibers with organic functionalities able to selectively interact with precious metal and rare earth cations. Nanofibers due to their high specific surface area possess novel properties such as low density, high pore volume, variable and controllable pore size and exceptional mechanical properties that make them ideal for filtration applications.

The electrospinning process conditions will be optimized for the production of nanofibers in a continuous way for the scaling up of technology. Moreover, nanofibers due to their high specific surface area possess high potential to acts as metal ion adsorbent. Membranes combining selectivity towards precious metals, rare earths and antifouling properties will be fabricated for the recovery of those elements. The nanofibrous filters has been made ion-selective by a series of nanofiber post treatments, such wet chemistry, for generating reactive sites on the fibers surface and finally by attaching the desired functionality by chemical grafting.

2. The second layer of the filter will consist of a cleaning system based on piezoelectric actuators. The cleaning of filtering membrane will be done by incorporating a piezoelectric structure between both nanofiber and ceramic layers. The piezoelectric systems consist of a printed porous piezoelectric layer of lead free alkaline niobate derivative, which will vibrate under electrical stimulus and will lift off the solids and foulants incrusted onto the pre-filter membranes. The use of lead-free alkaline niobate-based materials as antifouling membrane system is essential since they combine both excellent chemical stability and good functional piezoelectric response.

The realization of the structures has been performed by controlling of processing conditions (morphology of the powder, processing temperature and time) and the addition of different pore formers. Pore formers will be based on selected organic compounds that decompose at low temperature and form open pores with controlled size and pore size distribution. The piezoelectric structures will be achieved either by using a preformed porous piezoelectric layer as a carrier layer and subsequent coating with membrane material, or by simultaneously formation of ceramic membrane with a piezoelectric layer. In the second case, the layers will be sintered together to achieve monolithic hybrid antifouling system.
Patterning of piezoelectric materials represents an essential step towards obtaining final membrane structures with the required properties. Piezoelectric materials are commonly deposited on a substrate as a layer by thick film technology, namely screen-printing.

3. The third layer of the CERAMPOL filter will consist of a specifically active nanostructured ceramic membrane. Ceramic membranes have been widely applied for the removal of various contaminants from water and wastewater due to their high chemical, thermal and mechanical stability, and high permeability compared to organic membranes. In CERAMPOL ceramic membranes with specific affinity towards heavy metal ions, scavenging ability to Ir, Rh, Pt, Ru, Pd, Au, Er, Yt, Yb and sequestration properties for drugs and metabolites and with the ability to catalytically degrade organics will be developed.
The fabrication of the active ceramic membrane will be done in a two-step process (Figure 3). First, a ceramic layer with controlled pore size will be applied on top of a porous alumina (Al2O3) support by sol-gel technology. The sol-gel process involves the hydrolysis of metal alkoxide precursors in a suitable solution (sol) which goes through a polycondensation reaction to obtain irreversibly a three dimensional network (gel). The resulting gel is then dried and heated to obtain rigid porous solid materials with unique thermal, mechanical, and chemical properties. By varying the reactants and processing conditions the properties of the final material can be tailored for specific applications.

The second step of the fabrication process is the functionalization of the internal pore walls of the ceramic membrane by grafting method. A linking molecule (e.g. a siloxane) will form the covalent bonding between the ceramic support and the functionality to be grafted. This method will allow the desired specific properties to be conferred on the membrane surface by choosing the proper functionality and by controlling the grafting reaction. In the CERAMPOL project the pore walls of the ceramic layer will be functionalized with metallic nanoparticles (Pt, Pd, Fe, Au and combinations thereof) for catalytic degradation of organics. Other than flux enhancement, nanoparticles in membranes can be used for catalytic activity. Metallic (zerovalent) nanoparticles are well known for the degradation of organic compounds. Moreover, immobilization in a high surface area matrix avoids release of nanoparticles in the environment with potential eco-toxicity effects.

The advantage of the CERAMPOL concept is that the three different parts are considered as independent tools which can be easily combined for the efficient production of membranes with different configurations. The integration of various layers exhibiting various functionalities and properties, like antifouling, self-cleaning, catalytic activity, affinity to specific species, etc. leads to tailor-made solutions to meet the specific requirements demanded by various water remediation systems. The CERAMPOL project will provide an economic, innovative and versatile toolbox for rapid prototyping, fabrication and implementation of multi-functional nanostructured membranes for solving the problems of wastewater treatment.
Due to the flexibility of the approach, the CERAMPOL filtration technology will be readily transferred to several separation processes producing a significant progress at both industrial and environmental levels. In particular, between the framework of this project different membrane architectures will be developed to definite industrially relevant waste water purification processes:

1. Removal of heavy metal ions from waste water of metallurgic industry.
2. Catalytic degradation of toxic drugs from waste water of pharmaceutical industries/hospitals.
3. Recovery of valuable metals from waste water of chemical and mining industries

Scientific and technological objectives

The main objective of the CERAMPOL project is to design and develop a new generation of nanostructured self-cleaning and low-fouling membranes that could make a breakthrough in water purification technology for both heavy metals and drug removal as also in the scavenging and recovering of precious metals and rare earths. The CERAMPOL technology will allow production of cleaner water with significantly less maintenance costs and energy requirements, contributing significantly to the long-term water quality, availability of water resources.

The latest advances in nanotechnology will be applied to the fabrication of membrane modules consisting of three innovative functional parts as it was described previously. These three different parts has been considered as independent and complementary tools which can be easily combined to provide custom-made solutions. Hence, the CERAMPOL project aims to provide an innovative and versatile toolbox for rapid prototyping and fabrication of nanostructured membranes for specific water filtration. Due to the flexibility of this approach, the CERAMPOL filtration technology has been implemented into several separation processes.

The main scientific objective consists in manufacturing water filtration systems with low fouling tendency, self-cleaning properties, high specificity towards heavy metal ions; precious metals and rare earths coming from the mining and fine chemicals/pharmaceuticals industries; and with degradation capability to toxic organic molecules coming from effluents of the pharmaceutical and sanitary sectors.

One of the main scientific goals of the project is to engineer a cost effective system for the large scale production of nanofibrous membranes with high chemical resistance and good mechanical strength. Moreover, nanofibers will also be functionalized for scavenging precious metals/rare earths from waste streams, pharmaceutical and mining industries. Due to their high surface area, the nanofiber membranes developed in CERAMPOL will show a greatly improved metal retention capacity compared with commercially available adsorbents.

Other key objectives will be the reduction of energy/pressure requirements for high flux rate operation, high energetic efficiency, and low maintenance costs due to membrane cleaning. These objectives will be reached through the introduction of an integrated cleaning system based on piezoelectric materials. In CERAMPOL, for the first time porous piezoelectric membranes will be specifically designed and implemented as cleaning systems for water filtration. The innovative system will vibrate under an electrical stimulus removing solids that accumulate over time on the membranes surface. This will prevent the decrease in permeate flux and performances typical of common membrane filtration systems and greatly reduce the need for frequent cleaning or backwashing.

The new generation of ceramic membranes fabricated in CERAMPOL by sol-gel and grafting processes will significantly contribute in reducing dangerous organics released into European water supplies. New concepts of ceramic membrane pore functionalization will be applied to achieve high water flow apart from high selectivity towards metal ions and catalytic degradation of toxic drugs.

The main technological objective will be the up-scaling of the membrane by existing manufacturing processes and the demonstration of the efficiency in the purification of wastewater coming from pharmaceutical, mining, chemical and sanitary industries. The development of membranes stacks of 20x20 cm will allow studying of each step of fabrication as also the integration of an electronic device inside the membrane. The CERAMPOL technology will allow improving water quality and accelerating water treatments, lowering the costs and energy consumption, improving the lifetime of the filters and the recovery of valuable compounds. The presence of industrial partners including a multinational contractor (Técnicas Reunidas), the worldwide leader in industrial precious metals catalysts (Johnson Matthey) and a sanitary organization (Consorci Sanitari Terrassa) as end-users will guarantee the industrial relevance and impact of the project in a wide variety of water treatments.

Finally, a human health and environmental risk assessment of the generated membranes has been carried out for preventing the migration of nanoparticles or other nanopollutants from the membrane to the water and for evaluating the potential risks associated with the use of nanotechnology in water treatments.

Project Results:
WP1. Synthesis and characterization of new nanostructured ceramic membranes

The goal this Work Package is the development of ceramic membranes for the treatment of wastewater coming from sanitary installations. The selected target contaminants were two widely used antibiotics, such as levofloxacine and trimetroprim. The work was focused on the synthesis and optimization of membranes with high porosity and internal surface area, to be functionalized with active catalytic layers for the able to remove drugs such by means of catalytic degradation.

The developed membranes consist on different components produced either as skin layer or wash coat: a) Ceramic substrate which is a porous Al2O3 with large pores, high porosity and mechanical stability, b) Catalyst/Absorbent support on the ceramic substrate having small particles and a high surface area and c) Catalyst for catalytic oxidation. A wide variety of nanostructured catalysts were screened being γ-Al2O3 and CeO2 the most promising catalyst supports for drugs degradation. Powders of these inorganic particles were either purchased commercially or prepared using flame spray pyrolysis (FSP). With FSP, various materials can be mixed in one step, such as the catalyst with the catalyst support. This avoids an additional catalyst deposition step in the membrane preparation.

For the functionalization of the membranes for catalytic degradation the ceramic substrates different combinations of support and catalyst were loaded in the membrane: Commercial inorganic particles combining supports (Al2O3, CeO2 and others) and metal catalysts (Pt, Pd, Au, Mn, Ni, Fe and others), Flame spray pyrolysis inorganic particles (Metal/CeO2, Metal/TiO2, Metal /Al2O3 and others) and Carbon-based supports by grown carbon nanofibers with metal catalysts (Pt, Pd, Au, Fe and others). Cross section analysis by SEM micrographs of different resulting wash-coat samples indicated successful and homogeneous impregnation of the various supports on the substrates. As expected, clean water flux results showed a slight reduction in permeability after impregnation. The largest increase in surface area was achieved by TiO2 and CNF samples, being increased up to ~10-15 times from bare substrates which was highly beneficial for the functionalization of the membranes.

The developed membranes were tested for catalytic oxidation of the selected model antibiotics, levofloxacin and trimethoprim, using hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as oxidizing agent. A model wastewater aqueous stream was fed through the membrane at different flow rates in a dead-end, single pass operating configuration. The performance of the membranes was tested both at room temperature and at high temperature, 80 ºC.

During experiments, feed and permeate samples were collected regularly over time and the concentrations of antibiotic and H2O2 were analysed by HPLC. Distinction between (catalytic) oxidation and the simple adsorption of the antibiotic on the membrane surface was recognized by degradation products and compared to the blank activity. The membranes for catalytic degradation of drugs proved to be successful for the selected model compounds, especially at high temperatures where levofloxacine degradation above 80% was achieved.
In view of the obtained results, wash-coat membranes of metal supported γ-Al2O3 and CeO2 on α-Al2O3 (both from commercial materials and from flame spray pyrolysis materials) are the best performing candidates to be studied and developed in the next stages of the CERAMPOL project

WP2. Development and characterization of nanofiber membranes with antifouling effect

The objective of this work package is to define the methodology for the nanofiber membranes fabrication, their characterization and evaluation to be employed for the fabrication of the first prototypes of nanofiber membrane pre-filters with key properties such as: antifouling, removal of toxic heavy metals, and the recovery of valuables such as Rare Earths and Precious metals (PGMs).

The work on polymeric nanofiber membranes with antifouling properties was focused on the fabrication of electrospun nanofibers loaded with antibacterial silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). Different methods have been investigated being in-situ generation of the AgNPs in the polymeric solution before electrospinning process the best methodology. It was selected due to the easy and low cost process with straight forward industrial implementation. A two-steps procedure was developed and optimized: first, the generation of AgNPs in a polymer solution (heat treatment as the easiest and more reproducible strategy) followed by the synthesis of the nanoparticle-loades nanofibers by electrospinning technique. This method results in AgNPs with small diameter (~3-5 nm in diameter) with an homogeneous distributions inside the nanofiber matrix. Antibacterial activity was assessed, AgNPs-loaded nanofibers showed good antibacterial activity against E.coli regardless of the strategy employed where the minimum concentration of Ag precursor for a satisfactory antibacterial effect was 0.5 wt% respects to the polymer.

The work on polymeric nanofiber membranes with ion-selective properties for heavy metals removal was firstly focused on the characterization of the real wastewaters to be treated, leading to the identification of the targets ions for membrane development, being Cu2+, Pb2+ and Zn2+. The most suitable polymeric materials were selected and the electrospinning parameters were optimized and set to produce nanofibers in a continuous and stable process. The resulting nanofibers were then functionalized by a newly developed two steps process consisting of with an initial pretreatment followed by a grafting step to introduce chemical groups with selectivity to heavy metals. Nanofibers were modified with several functional groups resulting in three selective nanofibrous materials for heavy metals. The metal uptake capacity of the developed electrospun nanofibers was assessed. Complete kinetic studies were carried out on each adsorbent material to determine the main influent parameters (adsorption time, pH, maximum loading capacity, selectivity against interfering metal ions and interfering anions) trying to mimic real situations. The 3 ion selective nanofibrous materials developed showed high adsorption capacity for Pb2+ (8.8 mmol/g), Cu2+ (6.1 mmol/g) and Zn2+ (7.2 mmol/g). High selectivity towards interfering metal ions was observed in all cases and sulphate media is the less interfering media for the metal adsorption process

In the case of polymeric nanofiber membranes with ion-selective properties for scavenging of rare earth elements, according to the characterization of the wastewater coming from mining industry, Yttrium(III) and Europium(III) were identified as target elements for membrane development. Nanofibers able to recover rare earths elements were fabricated by impregnation of electrospun nanofibers with commerical organic extractant known to possess a high selectivity towards lanthanides. The impregnation process conditions were optimized for large scale production of the material.

Metal uptake tests were carried out by mixing Eu3+ or Y3+ solutions with the developed adsorbent systems. Adsorption results for both rare earth metals were promising since the nanofiber membrane was able to recover over 95% of the rare earth ions. Complete metal uptake capacity studies for both Eu3+ and Y3+. were carried out following the same procedure employed for selective nanofibers for heavy metals. An ion selective nanofibrous membrane prototype with high retention capacity towards the target rare earth elements (2.6 and 2.3 mmol/g for Eu3+ and Y3+ respectively) was developed. These nanofibers present high adsorption capacity for Eu3+ and Y3+ reaching around 100% removal at concentration ≤ 500 ppm, high selectivity towards interfering metal ions and anionic media do not interfere in the adsorption process.

Finally, electron-beam functionalization of the polymers is an industrial relevant technique to produce functionalized polymers with desired physic-chemical properties. Therefore this technique was chosen as a method to functionalize electrospun polymeric nanofibers with intrinsic antifouling properties. The functionalization of the membranes was carried out using several different monomers that can be grafted to the fibers and provide selectivity for metal up-take. The grafting conditions have been optimized in order to maximize the degree of grafting (DOG) without affecting the mechanical properties of the membranes.The resulting functionalized nanofibers were fully characterized by a variety of techniques. In the optimized conditions, a DOG up to ~50 % was obtained, in all cases being these values comparable or higher than those found for similar commercial fibers. The metal up-take of the new mateirals has been measured using various synthetic PGM solutions. The membranes capacity strongly depended on the metal and/or the presence of anions in solutions. About 50% of the functional groups were used for metal scavenging when using single metal solutions (Pd or Au). The capacity of the membranes strongly decreased in the presence of anions (Cl-) due to competition for same sites. The optimized functional nanofibers membranes showed good up-take capacity for PGMs and a certain degree of selectivity for Au and Pd up-take when tested with mixed PGM synthetic solution.

WP3. Development of new piezoelectric cleaning systems

The objective of this WP is to select the piezoelectric and electrode materials and the design concept, to prepare selected piezoelectric and to screen their properties, and to fabricate and to characterise the Piezoelectric Driven Vibrating systems (PDV) at laboratory scale (50x50 mm).

The selection of the materials has been focused in 4 key components: the ceramic substrate, the piezoelectric actuators, the electrical interconnections and the fluid-protected layer.

For the piezoelectric integration was studied in two ways: the development of the piezoelectric material as a thick film integrated onto the porous ceramic substrate or as a bulk ceramic in a form of a porous self-standing substrate. The compatibility between different materials and fabrication methods were studied as well as their influence on the final piezoelectric properties, eventually leading to the selection of the optimal fabrication procedure.

The PDV system was designed based on the targeted dimensions of the laboratory scale prototype. The filtering area is shaped circularly in the centre of the porous alumina plate and the vibrations are generated with actuators located on the plate. Based on the selected materials, technologies and design, the methodology of the fabrication process of the PDV system was defined. Other key components of the system as fluid-protected layer, interconnections and pads were fabricated.

Piezoelectrically induced vibrations of the 50 x 50 mm alumina plate with integrated piezoelectric actuators were measured using a fiber-optic displacement sensor under various experimental conditions. The displacement amplitude versus the driving-field frequency for various piezoelectric materials integrated in the porous alumina plate was studied. The vibrating system prototypes were fabricated and tested with a fixed frequency swept sinusoidal driving voltage. In all cases, the vibrations at higher frequencies were more stable and less sensitive to the considered parameters (damping, media, pressure, etc.). At all tested conditions, the system vibrated with amplitudes in the range of few tens of nanometres to approximately one micrometre.

The vibrations of porous alumina substrates were examined as a function of the position and number of the actuators. As expected, the amplitude depend on the position of the actuators at low frequencies, however high frequency modes are less affected by the position of the actuators. Finally, the displacement amplitudes of the system under different water pressures were measured.

WP4. Modeling of the flow transport through the membrane

The objective of this Work Package is to study the filtration process developed in the CERAMPOL project and optimise the operational parameters by employing analytical and numerical modelling techniques. The developed numerical tools and modelling methods are used in order to construct a filtration unit which ensures maximum flux and minimum fouling rate, with the least power input, for a long operational time.

The chosen design model was that of a vortex chamber (hydrocyclone) where in the bottom part is allocated the PZT plate. The feed fluid is forced to rotate as it gradually reaches the centre, where the retentate turns vertically and leaves the filter from the top. The advantage of the hydrocyclone design is mainly the high cross flow rotating velocities created within the empty space for the same energy input which are greater than at the inlet. Additionally, the flow creates a fairly uniform velocity profile along the membrane. Only a small area in the centre of the filtration unit is subjected to lower cross velocities (which corresponds to 4% of the total membrane). The design includes features such as an elongated inlet to distribute the inlet flow alongside the height of the chamber, resulting in higher uniformity; and tapered corners to prevent accumulation of fouling. Some parameters such as diameter or height to diameter ratios were also considered.

Different simulations were run to establish the optimal operating conditions. The inlet velocity was varied between 0.5 m/s and 1.5 m/s. The velocity profiles along the dimensionless radius as a function of the inlet velocity indicate that as the inlet velocity increases, the associate increase of the vortex velocities becomes linear. Due to the profile of the velocity, 90% of the membrane has crossflow velocities higher than 1.5 m/s, when operating with inlet velocity of 1 m/s.

For the fouling study, the simulations for hospital waste water application were performed taking into account the amount of solids in suspension, the average particle diameter and the solids density. The flux through the membrane and the fouling cake growing were “self-adjusting” having fairly uniform fouling growth rate on the membrane. The predicted behaviour is similar to typical textbook description, which shows the success on the implementation of the models. However, the cake mass growth model is very sensitive to the input parameters and care must be taken in the interpretation of the results. The area which is more prone to have accumulated particles that are not necessarily removed is in the centre of the membrane, where velocities are very small. In the case of a hydrocyclone, gravity has a minor effect in the motion of the particle.

The design was optimised to operate with relatively low power consumption but ensuring that high velocities are achieved to reduce fouling rate. The results have clearly demonstrated the benefits of the hydrocyclone design and models were built to predict the flux reduction as feed particles accumulate on the membrane and build-up the fouling layer. Once the fouling layer breaks due to the vibration from the piezoelectric actuators, there is high enough shear stress to lift even the largest particles. The smaller of those will lead to the retentate outlet whereas the larger ones will be forced to be moved at the side wall of the filter. In either case there must be a mechanism to remove the fouling layer particles from the system (a possible solution to remove the larger particles is to introduce a tap at the side wall where momentarily a valve will open and flush the particles out).

WP5. Development and characterization of hybrid ceramic-polymer membrane

This work package builds on the previously obtained results, enabling the production of a number of hybrid ceramic polymer membranes with different functionalities, for different final uses. The most suitable process for the fabrication of the individual components as well as the whole assembly was selected and optimized. Several different prototype membrane assembly (50 x 50 mm size) were fabricated, characterized and their performances assessed at laboratory scale first with synthetic water and then with real waste water. The best performing hybrid membrane for each separation process were scaled-up to a 200 x 200 mm size. A scaled up cartridge system was specifically designed and fabricated in order to fit all the hybrid membranes.

The vibrating system able to vibrate in a wide range of frequencies in a wide range of frequencies was made on porous alumina plate with dimensions of 200 × 200 mm.The filtering area will be circularly shaped in the centre of the plate and the vibration will be generated with piezoelectric actuators.

The polymeric electrospun nanofiber membranes with selectivity towards heavy metal ions, rare earth elements and precious metals have been developed to be able to reproduce, at demonstrator scale, the results obtained at laboratory scale. The material was produced by electrospinning and compacted into sheet material. The sheets were then grafted with functional groups, responsible for the selective take up of target ions. Nanofiber membranes around 150 x 150 mm in size were produced and implemented in the final demonstrator.

The functionalized ceramic disks for antibiotic degradation are produced as ceramic sheets. Since the disks are placed in a well defined cartridge, the diameter dimension of the disk needs to be controlled carefully. The disks were functionalized with the catalyst by a vacuum impregnation process.

The laboratory system was produced, the PDV system was instaled and used for the final testing and evaluation. The PDV system testing demonstrated that piezoelectric vibration forces have a positive effect on the membrane permeance. LVX degradation tests with the selected catalysts resulted in more than 50 % of LVX degradation after 30 min of run and 98% after 1 hour, reaching a 99.7 % of degradation after 4 hours which demonstrate that the presence of catalyst improves the degradation process.
In case of Nanofiber-based materials for wastewater treatment, a very high uptake capacity of Heavy Metals (Pb, Zn, Cu) and an efficient recovery of Rare Earth Metals (Eu, Y) was achieved with good results by testing with both synthetic water-polluted and real contaminated water samples. Additionally, no pressures higher than 2.5 bars have been observed inside of the cartridge. The functionalised nanofibers have been tested for precious metal removal using single Au and Pd synthetic solutions and real waste water, showing high capacity for Au and Pd in agreement with previously reported results.

WP6. Development of procedures for membrane cleaning, metal recovery and membrane regeneration

This work package has focused on the design and construction of a membrane cleaning system for the final demonstrator and on the development of processes for membrane regeneration. The combination of both research results enabled a continuous study on the regeneration capabilities and performance of the ion-selective nanofibers, which yielded a first evaluation of the membranes lifespan. Finally, suitable recovery solutions with higher metal recovery and best operating conditions were tested, with laboratory equipment, for continuous metal stripping using first synthetic solutions and then, real effluents from mining and hydrometallurgical processes.
A system for solids removal was designed and tested at lab-scale to remove and evacuate the solids and foulants lifted-off the membrane surface by the piezoelectric vibration during operation, thus, increasing the time span between maintenance operations. Once, this system was optimized, an efficient membrane cleaning system for solids removal was designed and constructed in 200 x 200 mm test rig with a mechanism to enhance the membrane cleaning

An optimal recovery and regeneration process was developed for each target element. For the precious metals, the recovery process yielded up to 88% of Pd recovery, with 90% stripping efficiency and a complete regeneration of the membrane using a thiourea solution. Regarding heavy metals and rare earths, preliminary studies were performed to select the optimal stripping solutions and to determine the effect of reusing the membranes. A HNO3 solution was selected to recover heavy metal and rare earths from the membrane. The stripping processes yielded more than 90% recovery for each heavy metal and 70% for each rare earth element. Then, testing of these stripping solutions with mining effluents containing heavy metals and rare earths was carried out in the lab system and it was demonstrated that the stripping capacity in a continuous operation keeps the recovery efficiency.
Finally, a system based on extractants microencapsulation for rare earth accumulation from the stripping solutions was developed. The results indicated that the metal uptake yielded up to 98% for Y3+ and 90% for Eu3+.

WP7. Risk assessment (RA) of nanotechnology-based membranes during their whole life cycle

The proposed work had been focused on a selected set of nanoparticles relevant for the different types of membranes synthesized during the project (ceramic and polymeric nanofiber membranes) according to the data obtained from Work Packages 1 and 2 and carried out in the relevant exposure scenarios identified at the different life cycle stages. The WP7 was organized into two main steps:

Information gathering represents a critical step of any risk assessment since a large number of input data are required about the processes and materials. In this step, the data generated during the project on the physico-chemical properties, (eco)toxicity of the nanoparticles, operational processes and risk management measures have been analyzed and evaluated in order to be integrated in the risk assessment analysis.

In risk characterization, exposure levels were compared to quantitative hazard information. As a first step, the hazards of the nanoparticles incorporated in the CERAMPOL membranes have been assessed. As a second step, the predicted environmental concentration during the use of the membranes in the freshwater compartment as well as that concentration that could be reached in a worst case scenario of complete disintegration of the membranes during their use were estimated. Regarding occupational exposure concentrations, two different softwares were applied: qualitative risk estimation was performed by using the stoffenmanager nano which did allow prioritizing the different identified exposure scenario based on their potential risk. When possible, the scenarios identified with higher priority were evaluated by using ART, quantitative software.

Risk assessment was based on a structured methodology which can identify the hazards and exposure in a given condition of use of the nanomaterials that can generate the risk.
For catalyst used in the fabrication of the ceramic membranes, the threshold limit values for thechemical components are rather similar. For their bulk counterparts, both were considered of little toxicity and limit values were close to the generic values for dust. As nanomaterials, toxicity increases considerably, and experimental studies suggest that much lower thresholds should be applied (few ng/m3 in both cases). Sincethe components pose similar hazard and the metal support did represent the main nanomaterial in this type of membranes, the risk assessment was based on its hazard values. The use of respiratory FP3 masks that adequately seal to users’ face would decrease worker exposure to levels close or slightly below the hazard thresholds.
For electrospun polymeric nanofiber membranes, a quantitative occupational risk assessment during the manufacturing of the membranes was not possible. The potential risk for workers was mainly found to be influenced by the possibility of respirable nanofibers to be produced during any of the activities involved in the production of such membranes such as the opening and cleaning of the electrospinning device. Threshold limit values for asbestos, 0.01 fiber/cm3, were suggested as default values for fibrous materials. Polymeric nanofibers were not as rigid as asbestos or CNTs, which is expected to decrease their pathogenicity. In addition it should be kept in mind that only nanofibers of respirable sizes (below 1 mm length) would be of concern. If respirable nanofibers would be produced and their length would be above 5 µm (without relevant biodegradation occurring in the organism), it could be expected that they would lead to long term inflammation and pathogenic responses resembling those of asbestos. Unless solid evidence is gathered showing that no such fibers are produced, it is advisable to follow the precautionary principle and take all reasonable exposure protection measures during these activities.

The objective of the environmental risk assessment was to characterize the risks posed by the nanomaterials component of CERAMPOL membranes on environment when used, considering two different exposure scenarios. On one hand, a normal use of the membrane, which is a scenario that considers the fact that the NPs could be released from the membrane during the regular and normal operation of the membrane and on the other hand, a “worst case scenario”, where the membrane would disintegrate completely, releasing all the nanoparticles contained in it. Release of the polymeric nanofibers during the use of the membranes was considered to be negligible, consequently the environmental risk of these membranes during their use was not considered in our evaluation.

The potential risk that the catalyst could pose to the freshwater compartment during the use of the ceramic membranes was evaluated. The predicted no effect concentrations (PNECs) and predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) were considered for risk estimation.In both cases, during the use of the membrane and during a hypothetical worst case scenario of a complete disintegration of the membrane, the use of the catalyst was considered safe for the freshwater compartment.

WP8. Fabrication and testing of the demonstrator modules

The main objective of this WP is to demonstrate that the CERAMPOL technology can be successfully applied to industrially relevant processes. The work was initially focused in designing an up-scaled version of the initial CERAMPOL filtration module prototype. The construction of the prototype was started by first focusing on constructing the filtration module and later on, the rest of the components.

The first stage in the construction process was the up-scaling of the hydrocyclone concept. The definition of operational parameters, the selection of the most suitable materials and the completion of the different parts were the steps to follow in this stage. The hydrocyclone prototype was constructed out of PMMA to ensure a clear view of the inner workings of the filtration and piezoelectric vibration when in operation. An evacuation channel was added to the final design allowing the evacuation of the particles and foulants lifted by the piezoelectric system that are otherwise retained in the hydrocyclone chamber.

The upper filtration module piece houses the hydrocyclone cavity together with the inlet, outlet, cleaning system and sealings. The lower filtration module which accommodates a series of components such as membranes, PZTs actuators, cables, etc. Finally, the work performed in the up-scaling of the full prototype includes the implementation of suitable piping, instrumentation and control system.

The developed prototype has been fully tested for the different selected wastewaters (mining industry, hydrometallurgy and hospital water) with successfully results for each application. The testing of the modules has been carried out in two different stages. First, the efficiency of membranes for heavy metal, rare earths and precious metal recovery was evaluated. In general, the results yielded a lower performance with respect to the testing at lab-scale, due to the high complexity of the water reducing the efficiency of the membranes. Nevertheless, comparatively good results with respect the state-of-the-art were achieved, even considering that most of the data found in literature were obtained at lab-scale with synthetic water. Then, the catalytic degradation process of target drugs present in hospital wastewater was highly efficient reaching a 99.9 % of LVX degradation after 6 hours.

Finally, the developed prototype has been fully tested under extreme conditions to ensure that there is no operational hazard left unattended and maximize the security of the operator and the prototype during the demonstration activities. All the required documentation has been compiled and is provided with the equipment during commissioning.

Cost assessment of the nanomaterial-based membrane fabrication and use was developed. The first step was to determine the goal and scope of the life cycle costs (LCC) analysis, and also the limits of the system under study. Four life cycle stages were determined to be included in the LCC analysis: the synthesis of materials and the manufacturing process of the membranes, the construction of CERAMPOL demonstrator, the operational and maintenance and the end-of-life scenario of the membranes.

The functional unit, needed to provide a framework where all the system inputs and outputs are referenced, and costs results are related was defined during the development of this step. The functional units were: unit for heavy metals, unit for rare earth elements, unit for precious metals and unit for antibiotics degradation. Considering the functional unit established and the life span of each membrane, the most expensive membrane is the nanofiber membranes for scavenge precious metals, followed by the nanofiber membranes for rare earth elements and the nanofiber membranes for heavy metal ions, then the piezoelectric membrane and finally, the membrane with the lowest cost is the ceramic one.
The following step was the value assessment. The aim of this step is to quantify the final cost (in €) for each membrane developed within the CERAMPOL project and also it was quantify the final cost (in €) for four different pilot plant configurations per functional unit, considering one year of operation. The results showed that the most expensive configuration is the functional unit for scavenging precious metals and the lowest cost configuration is the functional unit for antibiotics degradation.

WP9. Dissemination, exploitation and assessment of the new antifouling hybrid filtration membrane.

LEITAT participated at the XXXI EMS Summer School 2014 on Innovative Membrane Systems. LEITAT presented a poster entitled “Nanofiber membranes with high adsorption capacity and selectivity towards heavy and rare earth metals as part of CERAMPOL project”. Dissemination poster showing the concept and main objectives of the CERAMPOL was also presented. Moreover, leaflets were distributed to the participants of the event. JSI participated in a national conference on “Young Researchers Day” in Slovenia. JSI did a presentation on the fabrication of Lead Zirconate Titanate ceramics (PZT), the influence of porosity on longitudinal wave velocity, the corresponding acoustical impedance and attenuation coefficient. KeraNor met with people in the hospital business in Norway to explain how the CERAMPOL project is trying to solve the destruction of emitted medical rests. The meeting attended people from all the main Norwegian hospitals.

CERAMPOL was part of the nano4water cluster which was initiated to facilitate dissemination and information exchange and to increase the visibility of various projects. At the time when the project CERAMPOL started in 2012, the nano4water cluster was expanded to 17 projects dealing with nano approaches to water treatment. CERAMPOL was linked to other European projects NANOPUR, CERAWATER, NANOSELECT, LbLBRANE and NAWADES.

It is worth mentioning that LEITAT organised the 5th Dissemination Workshop of the Nano4Water Cluster entitled “Recent Advances in Nanotechnology for Water Treatment”. The detail information about the workshop is given:

Another workshop on “Water Purification” organised by Johnson Matthey (JM) took place at the end of the project. The coordinator of the CERAMPOL project presented the overview of the project. Dr. James Stevens from JM presented the overview of the advanced ion exchange and the Dr. Nadia Permogorov from JM summarized the activities on the membrane technology in JM. The participants of the workshop have searched interest for future collaboration and via discussion have searched for a new project ideas in the field of water purification systems.

LEITAT prepared a project poster and a project leaflet at the beginning of the project describing the project objectives, participants and technologies. This was very useful to disseminate the CERAMPOL project in different events such as scientific/technology and industrial seminars, workshops and conferences. The CERAMPOL project webpage was specifically designed to include information for the general public and private consortium documents. It is accessible at

One of the objectives of the CERAMPOL project is to add value to the results the best way possible. To achieve this, the consortium partners identified potential exploitable results at the beginning of the project. During the length of the project, more results have been obtained and the partners were in better position to identify exploitable results. This enabled the consortium to identify if the invention meets the patentability criteria and has sufficient commercial potential. The risks and potential obstacles for exploitation were also analysed.

A patent application was filed during the CERAMPOL project and it is in process to be presented. This shows evidence of the pre-exploitation actions carried out in the CERAMPOL project.

Potential Impact:
CERAMPOL project will contribute to achieve the expected impact of decoupling the use of resources from economic growth by means of implementing an efficient water treatment system under industrial process improvement premises. According to the WSSTP European Platform Strategic Research Agenda, water-using industry needs technologies and systems which minimize the risk of discharge of nutrients, harmful chemicals and thermal emissions to the water environment. It advocates for the necessity of developing new technologies that can provide more water without contributing to overexploit the existing freshwater resources. CERAMPOL complies with what required by the WSSTP, by foreseeing the development of a wastewater recovery and energy efficient technological solution. In fact, it responds to the need, outlined by the WSSTP, of developing technologies which use less energy to treat wastewater, as CERAMPOL hybrid-membrane’s composition and properties such as diameter, porosity, thickness, permeation or pressure drop are strictly controlled and improved to obtain an optimal antifouling and mechanical self-cleaning system which enhance performance, efficacy and energetic consumption.
The environmental impact of the large implementation of the CERAMPOL technology contribute considerably to the conservation of the biodiversity by means of the prevention of chronic poisoning associated of bioaccumulation of heavy metals. Also, the removal of therapeutic agents from hospital, geriatric and pharmaceutical effluents allows preventing the proliferation of multidrug resistant organism one of the mayor threats of biodiversity.

Social impact
The CERAMPOL technology will contribute positively to the global access of drinking water, the preservation of water resource. The “Lisbon Strategy” states that Europe has to be “the most dynamic and competitive economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and respect for the environment.” Clearly, the CERAMPOL project contributes to this aim. This project can contribute in fact create new jobs related to the management of the new technology and its maintenance.
By promoting the creation of qualified jobs, the CERAMPOL Project has developed novel polymeric and ceramic materials that can either work separately or combined in an innovative water treatment demonstrator that can contribute to strengthen the scientific and technologic competencies of European private or public institutions working in this area. Therefore, once observed the final outputs of the CERAMPOL project, the consortium considers that the present project comprises all of the elements that can lead to a high and long-lasting economic impact. Moreover, CERAMPOL technology, by presenting exceptional retention properties of heavy metals allows contributing to the decrease of diseases related to the bioaccumulation of heavy metal allowing both human and biodiversity protection. Moreover, the retention properties of therapeutic organic compounds substantially contribute to drug removal, which contribute to the fight counter the multidrug resistant organisms, one of the principal problems of hygiene and sanitary sectors at global level.

Economic impact
World demand for water treatment products is projected to increase 6.2 % per year to nearly 65 billion € in 2015. Although growth will be healthy across the globe, the drivers of growth will vary by region. The fastest annual growth was predicted to be in large emerging countries (like China and India) due to rapid industrialization and increased efforts to expand access to safe water supplies and adequate sanitation facilities especially in rural areas. China will remain by far the fastest growing major market. In just a few short decades, China has gone from being a country in which water treatment was at best an afterthought to being the second largest water treatment market in the world. The global membrane technology market used for water recycling in pharmaceutical, biopharma and life sciences is estimated at 6,178 M€ in 2014 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.47% from 2014 to 2020, to reach an estimated value of 32,140 M€ by 2020.
North America accounted for the second-largest membranes market share of 27.08% in 2014. However, the market for North America is fairly mature, and hence, the market in this country is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.17% between 2015 and 2020.
All the above mentioned market factors and trends will directly impact on: (i) the benefit of producers of new families of functionalized ceramic membranes, it will also have great economic effects on (ii) the benefit of producers of organic specialties, nanoparticles and polymer producers, while a new generation of smart systems will be developed, opening a new market to piezoelectric ceramic, industrials sector dealing with precious metals and ink producers.
The worldwide turnover of nanotechnological applications in water and wastewater treatment reached 1.2 billion EUR in 2007 and has increased to 4.8 billion EUR in 2015. Removal of harmful microbes is one of the fastest growing market segments with broad applications and benefits; catalysis with nanocatalysts is seen as one the most promising methods for disinfection. In spite of wide availability of technical solutions (reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, electrodeionization), in the industrialized countries there is still major need for very efficient water purification systems mainly for Trihalomethanes (THM) or similar, bromide and bromated substances. THM are by-product of the chlorination when chlorine is added to natural surface waters (lakes, rivers, streams) or ground waters (springs, wells).
Conversely, in developing countries around 80% of the diseases are due to bacterial contamination of drinking water, though several techniques are already used to disinfect water (i.e. the use of chlorine and its derivatives, ultraviolet light, boiling or low frequency ultrasonic irradiation). This scenario shows that there is enormous potential for nanomembranes to be used for finer filtration in modular systems or as an alternative to conventional disinfection methods, such as chlorination or UV disinfection.
The new solutions proposed in CERAMPOL own enormous capabilities which has been demonstrated in the course of the project (high selective adsorption of heavy metal ions, high scavenge of rare earths and precious metals, degradation of antibiotic molecules or anti-fouling system based on PZT). Conventional systems in water treatment plants often require high operator maintenance and additive usage and fungible, and they are sometimes inadequate to handle upset conditions such as high turbidity. On the other hand, membrane systems perform reliably under a wide range of operating conditions and are much less dependent upon operator attention. Membrane filtration is considered a mainstream technology to cost-effectively meet increasingly stringent regulatory requirements.
A substantial economic return to the N&N market is foreseen in CERAMPOL project as a result of:
1. Intrinsic cost added value. Self-cleaning piezoelectric membranes minor the deterioration caused by biochemical processes. No backwashing or cleaning cycles is needed allowing a continuous filtration process winning operating time.
2. Estimated 30 % energy consumption reduction in WWTPs. Energy cost constitutes between 25 and 40 percent of the budget of a typical wastewater treatment plant. In the CERAMPOL project, significant drop of organic material obstruction allows a considerable decrease in the pump energy consumption. We have calculated that a 30 % of energy consumption was saved thanks to the use of the selfcleaning/ antifouling smart systems.
3. Recovery of precious metals and rare earths. The recovery of valuable raw materials is a great economic value and of crucial importance to limit dependence of Europe to rich fossil resource countries. In CERAMPOL, the development of new materials and methods for the recovery of precious metals and rare earth elements down to 1 ppm level (between 0 and 500 ppm, 100 % recovery of rare earth is reached) provide European components manufacturers the access to a cheaper supply of these minerals.
4. Life Cycle design. Low-fouling hybrid system boosts prolongation of the membrane lifespan while reducing the purification process to a one single-step filtration.
5. Water recovery/recycle strategy. It is estimated a water reuse of 95-99 % for industrial purposes.
6. Extensive applicability. The new technological approach it is foreseen to make a breakthrough in industrial and sanitary water purification covering as end-users not only mining, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies but also food, steel, and rural industries.
7. Cost/benefit analysis of the product. The economical assessment and impact ensure optimal competitiveness due to for the different application; a competitive price is achieved for each component and for each final configuration.
As the world continues to gradually lessen its dependence on fossil fuels by developing renewable energy technologies, a new problem is arising: many of these new technologies are manufactured using rare earth elements (REE) and other scarce minerals. These elements are already heavily used in the manufacturing processes of consumer electronics, aerospace, and medical devices. The global market for rare earth elements is expected to reach USD 10.96 billion by 2020. China currently produces over 97% of all REE and has recently announced a steep reduction in their export quotas. Hence, the viability of many EU industries has become at risk since it relies on the secure supplies of raw materials. The medium term supply security is of severe concern due to both resource restriction and growing Chinese demand. One of CERAMPOL objectives was to develop new and innovative method to recover REE from manufacturing process with successful results as previously mentioned. Overall, CERAMPOL technology strengthens Europe position in the global water treatment market by improving the safety and the purity of water for both human and industrial consumption, as well as the efficiency of the treatment.

Environmental impact
The WSSTP European Platform Strategic Research Agenda argues that research is needed to permit the exploitation of these by-products of wastewater treatment and disposal. Therefore, the CERAMPOL project has has made a positive environmental impact achieving a 99.5% reduction of toxic heavy metals from acid mine drainage water and a 98% degradation of toxic drugs from effluents of pharmaceutical industries and hospitals. Moreover, CERAMPOL technology allowed 99.5% recovery of critical raw materials elements such as rare earth elements and precious metals found in streams hydrometallurgical, mining and chemical industries. By turning waste into value, CERAMPOL project is perfectly in line with the circular economy approach to climate change mitigation.

The CERAMPOL project includes life cycle analysis and environmental impact assessment that establish the most appropriate and eco-friendly recycling process of these residual products. According to the WSSTP European Platform Strategic Research Agenda, water-using industry and communities need technologies and systems which minimize the risk of discharge of nutrients, harmful chemicals and thermal emissions to the water environment. The CERAMPOL project permits the treatment and recovery of wastewater to be newly used for other production related uses, avoiding the further depletion of the available water resources and reducing the emission of pollutants.
One of the main concerns associated with wastewater treatment processes and the operation of a wastewater treatment plant is the high energy use. The energy used in the wastewater treatment process is primarily electricity and heat. For this reason, the CERAMPOL project has designed, developed and implemented a new wastewater treatment technology that requires substantially less energy compared to wastewater treatment systems actually in use. The CERAMPOL project has achieved a truly environmental sounding technological solution, capable of bringing the highest potential environmental benefits to the mining and metallurgical industry and sanitary sector.
The gathered data concerning exposure, toxicity and eco-toxicity, environmental hazard and fate of nanomaterials has provided ground basis for regulatory risk assessment concerning the materials employed and obtained. Assessment of the potential risks posed by nanotechnology-based CERAMPOL membranes was carried out at all the stages of the membranes life cycle and in all cases (nanofibers and ceramic membranes) the use of these membranes is considered safe for the freshwater compartment.

Main dissemination activities and exploitation
Within the lifetime of CERAMPOL various dissemination activities promoted the project and facilitated the transfer of project foreground to different target audiences. The full list of all activities is provided in section 4.2 (Tables A1 + A2), the following description highlights only the most relevant dissemination achievements in this regard.

New media, social media and interactive tools: The project website ( was the central hub of project information. Besides the news items, an event list and linked social media accounts, a tag cloud supports the comprehensibility of the project at once glance. An RSS feed enables users to be actively updated on website changes. The website was constantly updated and adjusted to reflect progress in the project. LinkedIn and Twitter were filled with content on a regular basis, providing information about upcoming events, public deliverables and other news.
CERAMPOL has edited some videos to present the developed materials and demonstrator working performance.

CERAMPOL project was presented in different magazines:
International Innovation vol 125, 58-60 ( with the tittle “Revolutionising wastewater management with tailor-made filtration systems”. International Innovation publishes global insight and analysis on current scientific research trends, as well as funding and policy issues. Coverage spans the breadth of scientific disciplines, with key focus on the interdisciplinary areas of healthcare, environment and technology. In this dissemination article, a general overview about the project is gived. In this interview, Project coordinator presents the CERAMPOL consortium, the three main facets of the system, the main goals of the CERAMPOL project and the expected results.
Recycling International. August 2014 ( with a communication entitled “Getting the most out of precious metals”. Recycling International magazine is the voice of the worldwide recycling industries. This magazine combines in-depth articles from recycling technology and scrap market updates, to reports about individuals and major companies. In this sence, project coordinator was interviewed to present the metal scavengers developed in the framework of the CERAMPOL project. Nanotechnology seems to be the new direction for metal scavengers, as this is also the central focus of the CERAMPOL project which aims to achieve a new generation of nanostructured membranes based on ceramic and polymeric materials with enhanced affinity to heavy metals.

Events and conferences:
LEITAT has coordinated the organization of the 5th dissemination workshop of Nano4water cluster (20-21 January, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain). In this workshop 4 comunications were related with CERAMPOL project: 1 oral communication was devoted to the description of the concept, objectives of the CERAMPOL projects and on reviewing the results obtained by the consortium in the fabrication, characterization and testing of the different developed components: ceramic membranes by sol-gel process for degradation of pharmaceutical compounds form hospital wastewater, cleaning systems made of piezoelectric materials and polymeric membranes by electrospinning process for heavy metals removal, precious metals scavenging and rare earths scavenging. 3 poster communications were focused on the components development and in the vortex chamber filter design for waste water purification

Highlights of participation in large conferences: In April 2012 and April 2013, CERAMPOL participated in Dissemination workshop of the Nano4water cluster in Thessaloniki, Greece and Desden, Gremany respectively with an oral presentation to introduce CERAMPOL to approximately 100 valuable stakeholders from industry, science and policy makers. CERAMPOL was presented in 13th Conference of the European Ceramic Society (ECERS XIII), June 2013 with a poster communication related to the fabrication of porous piezoelectric lead zirconatetitanate ceramics (PZT). In October 2013, CERAMPOL participate in a dissemination activity in Tel Aviv (Israel) called WATEC Israel 2013. Water Technology and Environment Control Exhibition & Conference by handing out flyers and one-to-one oral presentations to attendees. In the 4th Dissemination Workshop of the Nano4water Cluster, 3 oral presentations and 1 poster were carried out. In July 2014 CERAMPOL participated in International Conference on Membranes (ICOM) in Suzhou, China with an oral presentation to introduce CERAMPOL to approximately 1200 valuable stakeholders from different sector. In August 2014, the main obtained result in CERAMPOL project were presented in 3rd International Conference on Electrospinning in San Francisco, CA. CERAMPOL results were also presented 11th International Conference and Exhibition on Ceramic Interconnect and Ceramic Microsystems Technologies in Dresden, Germany (April, 2015) and in Electrospinning conference: Principles, Practice and Possibilities 2015 in London, United Kingdom (December, 2015). Moreover, CERAMPOL leaflets were distributed to the participants of all these events.

A range of dissemination material was prepared. This includes printed material like flyers and a poster, but also digitally spread newsletters. A Press release was marked to provide general overview and the main obtained results of the project.

Patents: A patent application was filed during the CERAMPOL project and it is in process to be presented. This patent is related with the development, composition and application of the piezoelectric plate for reduce the fouling during the wastewater treatment. This shows evidence of the pre-exploitation actions carried out in the CERAMPOL project.

List of Websites:
A public website was launched which is running since June 2012, and it is still operational.

The website link is:

Main contact details for CERAMPOL:

C/ Innovació 2,
08225 Terrassa (Barcelona, SPAIN)

Mirko Faccini, PhD. - Scientific Coordinator CERAMPOL
T: (+34) 93 788 23 00

Izabel Alfany, PhD. - Project Manager CERAMPOL
T: (+34) 93 788 23 00