02 May 2018

Biotechnology for treatment of hospital wastewater

DHI and Aquaporin A/S are currently testing advanced aquaporin-based membranes to treat hospital wastewater for pharmaceuticals.

Biotechnology DHI

© Fotolia / magann

Aquaporins are the water channels in cells of living organisms. They allow passage of water in and out of the cells and prevent simultaneous passage of ions and other dissolved molecules. In other words, aquaporins are nature's own highly-selective cleansing mechanism. Aquaporin A/S has developed and produced industrial membranes for aquaporins to be used in purifying water. 

Remains of drugs and hormone disruptors in water resources and the environment are an increasing problem. Especially in areas where drinking water supply is affected by sewage, the content of drugs in the water is increased. 

In this project, DHI and Aquaporin are testing and adapting the ability of aquaporin membranes to withhold pharmaceutical substances from hospital wastewater. We are also evaluating the technical-economic potential to produce high quality recycled water from the wastewater. The project started in March 2018 and will end in August.

Michael Holm Møller, Business Development Executive in Aquaporin explains, ‘For a membrane to retain compounds as small as medicine in waste water is extremely complex, but nonetheless of very high importance in a modern society. The Aquaporin technology can be the solution to international concern of pharmaceuticals in our water supply and environment.

Ulf Nielsen, Chief Planner, DHI comments, ‘We are excited about cooperating with Aquaporin to further develop and adjust this cutting edge technology. Pharmaceuticals are known as particularly persistent substances which are toxic in very low concentrations. This innovative technology opens new possibilities for reuse of polluted wastewater after efficient treatment.

The project is supported by the Innovation Fund Denmark's InnoBooster initiative. InnoBooster invests in knowledge-based innovation projects from small and medium-sized enterprises, entrepreneurs and researchers.