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A cost-effective and energy-efficient water treatment technology to remove pharmaceutical pollutants from urban wastewater

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DePharm (A cost-effective and energy-efficient water treatment technology to remove pharmaceutical pollutants from urban wastewater)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-04-30

Widespread contamination from pharmaceuticals (synthetic or natural chemicals found in prescription medicines, over-the-counter therapeutic drugs & veterinary drugs) that are finding their way into the drinking water supply, is posing serious threats to public health. Advances in analytical technology and instrumentation have been a key factor in increased detection of pharmaceuticals. Their presence in water, even at low concentrations, has raised concerns in the EU among drinking water regulators, governments, water suppliers and the public regarding their potential risks both to the environment and to human health.
Pharmaceutical compounds such as hormones and endocrine disrupters are already responsible of major health problems. Studies show them being strongly connected to the phenomenon of increased male infertility. Peer-reviewed studies show strong connection of many of the pharmaceuticals connected to severe effect on wild-life such as fish infertility, neurological damage on birdlife and unnatural behaviour in aquatic life.
Additional concern is lifted for the development of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics entering the environment even at sub levels of therapeutic concentrations show development of resistance in microorganisms. Being one of the main challenges in the world it is of great importance to prevent antibiotics to enter the environment.
Current wastewater treatment methods do not degrade many of the pharmaceutical contaminants, and may even generate more toxic by-products. The current methods also have high operative cost, preventing the uptake of solutions on the market. Pharem Biotech offer a solution PFS/DePharm (Pharem Filtration System) based on new enzyme based technology. The technology offer equal removal rate to the best alternatives on the market but with lower installation and operative cost at the same time as it do not affect working environment, a common problem with alternative technology.
The aim of this project was to validate the commercial & economic feasibility of our solution, map the stakeholder environments, investigate means to influence the stakeholders and select trial case partners from several countries.
A market survey of the Swedish and Swiss market was conducted to identify potential buyers. This resulted in the identification of 100+ potential early adopters in each market and work as a foundation for the launch into these markets. An update was also conducted on competing technologies according to latest data and still show DePharm being the more competitive solution on the market.
The decision process for the customers are complex with public tender being the main approach. A thorough mapping of the decision process and stakeholder map was conducted and increased understanding for the process have been established. For improved access to both the key markets and closer ties to the market, collaborations were established with key organizations in these markets. This will stand as foundation for marketing and trial cases within those markets.

A study into the regulation development of the swiss market was performed. A comparison was made into the EU market and how the future decision process is intended giving understanding into the potential of the market and the window of opportunity that surrounds this problematic. A thorough study into producers of the DePharm system and information gathering was used to validate the cost model for the system and look into the profitability of the new data. The information was used to structure an implementation plan on how to take the next steps for the DePharm system.

To further strengthen the technology patents were filed for the two main technology parts of the DePharm system. Partners was selected through established collaborations to take the next steps of the technological development focusing on optimizing the current technology and further improve the lead compared to other technologies, thus offer the market the best possible solution for solving this problem. The established Supply chain together with the stakeholder map serve as foundation for the maintenance of the DePharm system. This have been used to further improve on the future demand on resources to bring this technology to the market.
The project have validated the feasibility of the product and the market for the product, furthering the introduction to the market.
The issue with pharmaceuticals entering the water systems are of great concern within most societies. Antibiotic resistance being 1 of 5 main challenges for the world according to WHO, connected to not less than 4 of the main goals of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. On national scale it is lifted in the Gift fri miljö (Poison free environment) 2020 within Sweden as an example. The main bottle neck discussed are the waste water treatment facilities with insufficient processes and technology to remove these pollutants. The main problematic so far has been showing to high cost level for these solutions.
This project has shown that DePharm offer a viable solution that can reach the cost-levels needed for market acceptance.
Regulatory organizations have been expressing concern for the high cost of implementation of existing technology as a reason for delaying regulations against these pollutions. This project can show the capacity of lower market cost and entry level, thus help the regulations to be implemented earlier than expected. This will make societies to faster solve the issue of pharmaceutical pollutants for a lower cost than earlier expected.
DePharm system