Innovation That Matters

In addition to the nanomaterials, Oxyle also offers an analytics platform for real-time monitoring of micropollutants | Photo source Unsplash

Modular wastewater treatment technology driven by sunlight and water motion


Nanomaterials are being used to break down organic pollutants in wastewater safely, using energy derived from movement of the water

Spotted: According to UNESCO, 2 million tonnes of human waste and other effluents enter the world’s water courses each day. On top of this, in developing countries 90 per cent of sewage is released untreated into waters where it pollutes the usable water supply. Now, Zurich-based startup Oxyle is trying a new approach to wastewater treatment.

The company has developed a range of nanoporous catalysts that can be activated by the energy in water movements, like bubbling, flow, stress, cavitation, and light. Once activated, a chemical reaction occurs which splits water and oxygen to form radicals, such as hydroxyls. These break down organic pollutants into carbon, fluorides, and other harmless minerals. 

The catalysts can not only be customised to break down particular pollutants, but they are also fully recyclable. Unlike methods such as filtration and absorption, the pollutants in Oxyle’s process are completely eliminated, rather than simply being transferred to a secondary phase. The startup does not view filtration technologies as competitors, but as partners, since the highly concentrated waste they leave behind can also be treated using Oxyle’s methods.

The startup recently raised $3 million (around €2.8 million) in pre-seed funding, bringing its total funding to $7.4 million. The money will be used to bring its tech to market. So far, Oxyle has performed on-site pilot tests and worked on projects with agrochemical companies that would usually send their wastewater for incineration.

With the amount of wastewater generated expected to increase in the coming years, there is a great deal of interest in low-energy methods of purification. Springwise has also spotted a circular system that cleans wastewater using algae, and an industrial-scale system that treats water without the use of chemicals.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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