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Enhanced chitin-based biosorbents for drinking water purification

Final Report Summary - CHITOCLEAN (Enhanced chitin-based biosorbents for drinking water purification)

Executive Summary:
The project represents a technical and technological contribution to purification of polluted drinking waters by selective biodegradable sorbent derived from biowastes. ChitoClean will implement a holistic approach taking into account all necessary steps of a novel drinking water treatment process. This approach is centred on chitin-based biosorbents, which are already used in different applications and known for their excellent adsorption capacities. Natural materials made from carcasses of shrimps and crabs are to be physically and chemically enhanced to be suitable for the use in drinking water purification applications. The characteristics that the Enhanced Chitin-based Materials (ECM) will ideally present are improved stability, adaptability to different forms of filters and maximal adsorption rates and capacities.
ECMs are to be implemented in prototypes of filtering units. Different kinds of prototypes will be generated in order for the new technology to be applicable for different use: household filters, on-site water treatment in wells, big-scale treatment and integration into central water supply systems of small towns. In parallel products and processes will be tested in order to regenerate charged filters and extend their lifetime of the latter. As – despite material regeneration - ECM will eventually lose its absorption capacity and be ‘spent’ needing replacement, the project also investigates on methods to recycle and/or dispose of the ‘old’ filter material. In addition, the health aspect will be taken into account by evaluating the effect of the treatment by ECM on the mineral content/Balance of the purified water.
First discussions towards validation of results by potential customers are supposed to take place within the External Advisory Board regrouping representatives of stakeholder groups e.g. industry and water suppliers. Exploitation of results and IPR management are substantial components of the project and will be streamlined through the project's Exploitation & Dissemination Strategy. In order to raise awareness for project results, a major stakeholder event is planned at the end of the project.
Project Context and Objectives:
ChitoClean will conceive a novel filtering technology based on biosorbents derived from natural waste materials. It can be used both as add-on to existing conventional systems or as a stand-alone system in drinking water treatment. The project takes a process-based approach and will (1) investigate on enhanced chitin-based filter materials, (2) develop filtration units for different applications and (3) provide for the recycling/reuse and disposal of the spent filter material.
The main objectives for the project are:
O1 - To provide a set of novel chitin-based biosorbents with improved adsorption properties and stability, suitable for usage in drinking water treatment applications
O2 - To develop economically viable technical solutions for the targeted removal of different pollutants from drinking water
O3 - To develop regeneration and disposal procedure of spent biosorbents
O4 - To increase the competitiveness of SMEs by implementing new technical solutions and sustainable materials for production of advanced systems
O5 - To contribute to improvement of the water quality without impairing positive health effects, such as preserving the mineral content

To achieve these ambitious objectives the SMEP have decided to call on the BSG-SME research funding scheme within the EU FP7 in order to be able to outsource research activities to qualified institutes while at the same time receiving the IPR for the results generated. Five RTDP from Lithuania, Turkey, Austria and Sweden experienced in the field of drinking water purification and with complementary expertise have been selected to develop a suitable scientific concept in order to provide results enabling the SMEP to tackle the problems experienced and outlined earlier. A short sketch of this concept - agreed on by all partners – is given in the following.
ChitoClean tries to implement a holistic approach taking into account all necessary steps of a novel drinking water treatment process. This approach is centred on chitinbased biosorbents that are already being used extensively in different purification applications (biodiesel, chemicals, air, and wastewater) and are known for their excellent adsorption capacities. Within the present Project these natural materials - made from carcasses of shrimps and crabs – are to be physically and chemically enhanced to be suitable for the use in drinking water purification applications. The
characteristics that the Enhanced Chitin-based Materials (ECM) will ideally present are improved stability, adaptability to different forms of filters and maximal Adsorption rates and capacities.
ECMs are to be implemented in prototypes of filtering units. Different kinds of prototypes will be generated in order for the new technology to be applicable for different use: household filters, on-site water treatment in wells, big-scale Treatment and integration into central water supply systems of small towns. In parallel products and processes will be tested in order to regenerate charged filters and extend their lifetime of the latter. As – despite material regeneration - ECM will eventually lose ist absorption capacity and be ‘spent’ needing replacement, the project also investigates
on methods to recycle and/or dispose of the ‘old’ filter material.
While the development of the novel drinking water treatment process is at the centre of ChitoClean interest, health aspects will be considered. It has to be made sure that while
filtering out risk substances, the ECM does not impact too heavily on the natural Mineral content/balance of the treated water.
Project Results:
As the present section deals with scientific findings it naturally contains many graphs, pictures and tables. Regarding the fact that the present text window does not allow for any appropriate display of such text features, the summary description of the generated project results is provided in an attached pdf format document.
Potential Impact:
Introduction
The main aim of the project was to develop a novel drinking water treatment technology based on enhanced chitin-based biosorbents (ECM) adopting a cyclical approach and allowing maintaining the natural mineral properties of the treated water. The different steps of the technology process ensuring the so-called ‘cyclical approach’ and established during the project implementation are: (1) production of ECM, (2) optimized use of ECM in purpose-built filtration applications, (3) regeneration of loaded materials and (4) disposal or alternative use of spent materials. Although further research efforts would be needed to validate the developed solutions related to the before-mentioned process steps, the available results suggest considerable potential for impact on different levels.
Potential socio-economic and environmental impact
As can be concluded from the economic considerations of the involved SME partners (see D4.3) one possible market application of the proposed innovative technology is the treatment of water polluted by so-called emerging substances. This category of pollutants is an upcoming topic of European as well as international water research and very little is known about their impact on human health as well as natural ecosystems and biodiversity. A number of current research projects – some of them funded by the EU – are ongoing mostly focusing on the development of reliable and sensitive detection methods as well as on the establishment of robust risk assessment. Regarding the lack of information no legislation and/or regulations concerning emerging pollutants exist, but there are indications that some of the pollutants summarized under this category might already have adverse health effects at very low concentrations (e.g. hormones, pharmaceuticals, etc).
ECM - as developed within the ChitoClean project - showed high affinity towards some emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals, hormones and pesticides in laboratory experiments (see deliverables compiled in WP2). Regarding the fact that different Chitosan/chitin raw materials showed different affinity patterns towards these pollutants, it is expected that the ECM technology could allow for the flexible, tailor-made production of adsorbents for the targeted removal of a specific pollutant from water. In view of what has been said before, the developed adsorbents would be a low-tech solution for the removal of substances that are usually only present at very low concentrations and where no state-of-the art technology is currently available.
The ChitoClean Consortium looks to pursue technology development initiated within the present project and aims to establish – among others – a reliable adsorbent for different emerging pollutants. Once anticipated regulations will be implemented on a European level based on the findings of ongoing research projects, the ECM technology – including production, use and regeneration processes - will ideally be validated and ready to use. A substantial global market is expected where a European Consortium of SMEs would be able to provide a possible state-of-the-art application for the removal of specific trace substances from water.
Further ChitoClean will contribute to the sustainable provision of safe drinking water in Europe and the world. As has been highlighted in the economic evaluation of the ECM technology, it has been assumed that the developed adsorbents would be specifically suitable for the removal of different target pollutants either as an add-on to existing standard water treatment or in stand-alone applications in remote rural areas that are not connected to central water supply facilities. In particular ECM could provide a low-tech, low maintenance alternative for water treatment in remote, possibly poor areas of Developing Countries. The idea would be to develop ready-to-use filtration units for the treatment of well water thus contributing to improve drinking water quality in these areas. The focus would lie on a simple, robust and user-friendly technology set-up featuring an easily exchangeable and long-lasing ECM filter.
Results dissemination and exploitation during the project duration
During the project duration several major dissemination/exloitation activities have been implemented (refer to table ‘Dissemination activities’ under chapter 4.2 of the present report) in order to share the project results with relevant target groups. In line with the DoW of the ChitoClean project the groups addressed in particular were (1) business community, (2) scientific community, (3) policy makers and (4) the wide public. In the following a more detailed description of four selected dissemination/exploitation events and their follow-up activities will be given.
Activity: Water Innovation Europe 2014
Website: www.waterinnovationeurope.eu
Implementation date: 25th and 26th June 2014
Location: Brussels (BE)
Target audience: (1), (2) and (3)
Involved project partners: AIT, BIOLOG, DENIZSU
Summary:
WIE 2014 was organized by the WssTP - The European Technology Platform for Water, one of the European Technology Platforms endorsed by the European Commission. The event was aiming to gather a relevant audience including representatives from academia, business, water authorities and politics in order to provide a forum for the exchange on new developments in the water sector. Besides the regular programme of key note speeches and working group discussions, WIE 2014 was featuring an exhibition area where water innovations could be presented to this qualified audience at dedicated stands with information materials.
ChitoClean was present at this event hosting an exhibition booth to present the major findings of the project. It had been previously agreed in the SME Committee that the WIE 2014 would serve as the Stakeholder Information Event to the ChitoClean project. The obvious advantages of renting an exhibitor booth at this high-level event instead of organizing a stand-alone Stakeholder Information Event solely for project purposes were manifold: (1) substantial amounts of money (e.g. for catering, room rent, travel, etc.) have been saved, (2) a 200+ audience of relevant stakeholders has been reached and (3) time that would have been invested for event organisation was used for R&D work. The booth was attended to by four project representatives, three from SME partners – Andreas Heppe and Katja Heppe of BIOLOG and Ilker Akbas of DENIZSU as well as one from the coordinating organisation AIT – Alain Straus. Targeted dissemination materials had been prepared by the different SME partners especially for this event focusing on the description of the three major process steps of the new technology, namely ECM production, ECM use in filtration units of different scale and ECM regeneration. These materials included A3-sized posters as well as flyers and samples of ECM. Participants were showing substantial interest towards the project results and many new contacts could be made especially by the SME representatives. Some pictures from the event can be found attached to this report .

Follow-up:
Several interesting leads for follow-up activities opened up during and in the aftermaths of the WIE 2014. Here some of the most tangible and promising ones are highlighted.
Mr Jan Koning
ISTP Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (NL) - www.ispti.eu
Mr Koning is also the Chairman of the NL GUTS network (www.nlguts.nl) and has invited the ChitoClean project to present its technology development at their upcoming gathering in The Netherlands on 23rd September 2014. In short NL GUTS is a network of 33 company groups (from the oil & gas, chemicals, pharmaceutical, food & beverage and biotechnology sectors) in The Netherlands and Belgium using separation technologies in their production facilities. Every 2-3 months, some 20-25 separation experts (out of about 60 persons) gather to exchange knowhow. Each gathering has a specific topic (such as distillation, crystallization, membrane filtration, affinity separation, centrifugal forces, etc.) and technology companies as well as knowledge institutes are invited to present their developments to the group.
The member companies pay an annual contribution from which small scale experiments on real media are funded.
Ms Suzanne Faber
Isle Utilities (UK) - www.isleutilities.com
Isle utilities Isle is a technology and innovation consultancy that brings together technical and commercial specialists to help its clients to identify emerging technologies and accelerate their market uptake. Ms Faber has contacted AIT after the event with a specific request concerning one of their clients from the waste water sector. So far specific data on potential removal rates for emerging pollutants have been exchanged and currently opportunities for a potential application project of the ChitoClean technology in the UK are being evaluated.
Ms Liat Rosner
Practical Innovation Ltd (IL) - http://www.practicalinnovation.co.il/
Ms Rosner has contacted AIT through the Particpant Portal as she learned about the ChitoClean project at the WIE 2014. One of their partner companies – Hamat Group – specializing in manufacturing, marketing and exporting of bathroom and kitchen faucets would be interested in developing a faucet filter based on the ECM developed within the ChitoClean project. First thoughts and ideas have been exchanged and the potential for a common project is currently being evaluated.
Activity: 10th Asia-Pacific Chitin & Chitosan Symposium
Website: www.procomu.jp/apccs2013/english
Implementation date: 4th to 8th October 2013
Location: Yonago (JP)
Target audience: (2)
Involved project partners: AIT, BIOLOG
Summary:
The Asia-Pacific Chitin & Chitosan Symposium gathers every year scientists from around the world doing research on the properties and possible applications of this polysaccharide material. In 2013 the meeting was held in Yonago, Japan and reached an audience of approximately 120 Chitin/ Chitosan experts from around the globe. The addressed topics include – among others – the following: (1) Enzymatic modification, synthesis and degradation of chitin and chitosan, (2) Modification, Production and characterization of chitin and chitosan, (3) Food, Agricultural and other applications, (4) Biomedical applications and (5) Regulatory issues and Industrial applications.
The ChitoClean project was represented at this important international event by Zdravka Lazarova (AIT) and Andreas Heppe (BIOLOG). While Mr Heppe was an invited lecturer at the occasion of the 20-years anniversary of BIOLOG, Ms Lazarova was granted a speakers slot and used the opportunity to present the status quo of the research within the ChitoClean project which was still at the research stage at the time. The abstract of Ms Lazarova’s speech is uploaded as an attachment in the Participant Portal.
Activity: EUCHIS 2013 – International Conference of the European Chitin Society
Website: http://www.ineb.up.pt/events/upcoming-events/euchis-2013-international-conference-european-chitin-society
Implementation date: 5th to 8th May 2013
Location: Porto (P)
Target audience: (1) and (2)
Involved project partners: AIT, BIOLOG
Summary:
The International Conference of the European Chitin Society is one of the most important scientific meetings related to chitin/chitosan science held in the Europe, with the contribution of the most prominent and expertise scientists and professionals involved in this field. The topics covered typically include: (1) Production, modification and characterization of chitin and chitosan, (2) Enzymatic synthesis, modification and degradation of chitin and chitosan, (3) Biomedical applications - Agricultural, food and other applications - Industrial applications and regulatory issues.
At this event in Porto – which still came at a very early stage of the project – Zdravka Lazarova (AIT) was presenting in the poster session. Regarding the fact that the application as suggested by the ChitoClean project is very new to the Chitin/Chitosan community, the EUCHIS 2013 presented a good opportunity to introduce this topic to the scientific landscape. The poster (see attachment in the Participant Portal ) presented got a lot of attention and Ms Lazarova managed to use the event to extensively network and make contacts for potential follow-up projects. Additionally Andreas Heppe of project partner BIOLOG was part of the speaker panel and gave an oral presentation that among other topics also featured the ChitoClean project and its economic importance for BIOLOG.
Activity: ChitoClean project movie
Target audience: (1), (3) and (4)
Involved project partners: AIT, BIOLOG, LUDWIG, DENIZSU and MKDS
Summary:
A short movie highlighting the involved SME partners and their major developments implemented during the project has been compiled. All SME partners have provided film materials according to the specifications of the external consultant company Prime Concept GmbH that has been hired to administer the movie production. Parts of these film bits were then integrated in one single sequence and framed by a short interview with Zdravka Lazarova the project coordinator – in order to provide some general background information on the project. Basing on an idea of Prime Concept GmbH, all interviews were performed in the participants own language and translated by means of subtitles to further underline the internationality of the ChitoClean project. The final result can be found as an attachment to the present report.
The movie will be used as promotion material by all SME partners in the future.
Next steps concerning results exploitation
The different process steps as tested during the implementation phase of the ChitoClean project, were merely conceived as a first approach to the final processes and aimed at defining the approach for the upcoming development steps. There is agreement in the project consortium that the project findings are promising and that a follow-up development project is necessary to further optimize the technology process according to the recommendations from the project deliverables and reports. In particular it is foreseen to submit a project proposal to the EU funding programme ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ that would allow for the further up-scaling and validation of the ECM technology towards the anticipated applications as described above. A more detailed description of the exploitation plans of the different SME partners is provided in D5.4 Exploitation & Dissemination Strategy (Final Plan).



Ms Zdravka Lazarova
Konrad-Lorenz-Straße 34
A-3430 Tulln
Austria
zdravka.lazarova@ait.ac.at
+43 50550 3426