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Removal /control technologies for environmental contaminants

- a research area within the section MITO (Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology)

Technologies for removal of environmental contaminants

Critical amounts of chemicals - such as pharmaceuticals, biocides, flame retardants and a multitude of other compounds - are contained in wastewater as well as in rain runoff water. MITO is researching into new efficient means to remove these compounds from polluted waters to reach and keep good ecological status in surface waters and to maintain future water resources and deliver the basis for safe water reuse. Based on pure research projects as well as on collaboration projects with companies and municipalities we develop new means to remove organic micro-pollutants. In this respect we focus on

  • Developing new processes in innovative biofilm technology for energy efficient microbial degradation of pollutants,
  • Bio-nanotechnology to be able to oxidize compounds that are not easily oxidizable,
  • Chemical oxidation for compounds that otherwise are inert according to the current state of knowledge.
  • Biofilter technologies to remove compounds from rain-runoff water   

Our approach includes degradation pathways, transformation products and metabolites to make sure the new technologies solve the rising issues in a sustainable way. In collaboration with others we address issues like cost efficiency and life cycle assessment of new and emerging technologies.

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Control of xenobiotics in “waste to value” streams

“Waste to value” is a concept in which material that in earlier times was deposited or destroyed is used to generate value. One of the most prominent concepts is to produce biogas and thus energy from household and other green waste. The concept as such is unchallenged in its environmental efficiency. However, the process has one intake (green waste) and two outputs 1) Biogas/Energy) and 2) solid and liquid process residues that could ideally be used as fertilizer on land. For a safe operation it needs to be verified that either the intake is free of contaminants or the contaminants are degraded during the process. Verifying or falsifying these assumptions is one of our research areas.

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Management of polluted soils/removal of compounds in polluted soils

Human activities lead to polluted soils, be it through use of materials in urban areas (houses and gardens, i.e. construction materials, polymers, biocides, flame retardants), traffic (PAHs) or mismanaged landfill sites (all kinds of chemicals). MITO is researching on new ways to remove pollutants from such polluted soils and protect the groundwater involved. For this purpose, in situ degradation, as well as biofilter approaches are used. These activities are followed partially together with companies and municipalities.

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