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CustoMem gets £1.24M grant for its next-generation granular media

Biomaterial company CustoMem has received a €1.4M (£1.24M) European Commission grant that will accelerate the pilot phase of its next-generation granular media, which is optimised to capture and recycle specific challenging micropollutants found in industrial wastewater.

The CustoMem team of Henrik Hagemann, Katharina Reeh, Ben Reeve, Wen Li and Shayne Petkiewicz (left to right).The CustoMem team of Henrik Hagemann, Katharina Reeh, Ben Reeve, Wen Li and Shayne Petkiewicz (left to right).

The award will enable the company, founded in 2015 by Imperial College London graduates Henrik Hagemann and Gabi Santosa, to bring to market its CustoMem Granular Media (CGM).

“This is a game-changing grant for us,” CustoMem CEO Hagemann said. “Our products’ superior performance and cost-effectiveness have been validated in our laboratory and initial trials with clients. This grant enables us to scale up to industrial pilot trials of greater than 100 m3/day flow rates.

“With under 3% of all applicants securing a grant, our success demonstrates confidence in our company, our product and the quality of CustoMem’s team. As part of the award, we will continue to receive mentoring from world-renowned experts and critical business acceleration services including linking us to potential customers and investors.”

The award to CustoMem is funded through the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, part of the European Innovation Council, supporting top-class innovators and entrepreneurs. Horizon 2020 offers funding and additional support for breakthrough ideas with the potential to create new markets or revolutionise existing ones.

CustoMem, based at the Imperial College Innovation Hub in London, has combined its leading expertise in biomaterials and synthetic biology to create CGM. The bio-adsorbent can selectively capture micropollutants, like Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) from wastewater, in standard steel tank processing equipment that provides significant cost savings to customers compared with traditional adsorbent materials like anion-exchange media and granular activated carbon. 

Captured waste is disposed of safely as CGM can be chemically regenerated using a non-hazardous proprietary wash whereby the capture pollutants are removed and safely disposed of or repurposed. Crucially, CGM’s optimised performance allows faster flowrates and saves floorspace, utilising up to four times less plant footprint than activated carbon solutions.

CGM is being targeted for use at commercial airports, petrochemical plants and is particularly relevant to navy and air force bases where Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFFs) for firefighting are indispensable for safety reasons. However, these AFFFs contain PFCs that are carcinogenic and persistent in the environment. The CGM product can treat these industries’ industrial wastewater and help restore legacy contamination sites, thus preventing leaching into drinking water and agricultural land. 

As part of CustoMem’s plans for accelerated commercialisation, CustoMem receives mentorship from a number of specialists in its field including Dr Rita Glenne, chief technology officer, Reactive Metal Particles AS; Dr Steve Gluck, former technology Fellow at Dow Water and Process Solutions and current scientific advisor to a number of water and wastewater companies; Dr Steve Colley, former Director of Johnson Matthey Water Technologies; and Dr Tali Harif, Innovation Portfolio Manager at Severn Trent Water and previously head of the water treatment business unit at water and environmental consultants WRC.

Dr Gluck, who has just spent eight months working with CustoMem, said: “I am hugely impressed with the strength and the commitment which exists within this young company. CustoMem is now crystalising its strategy and media performance for scale-up deployments.”

Hagemann added: “We are already undertaking initial testing with a number of companies and organisations including two commercial European airports. Following this EC grant we are now ready to upscale and are actively welcoming partners to trial our solution on-site.”

 

Author: Robin Hackett, Deputy Editor, WWT and WET News
Topic: Innovation
Tags: Innovation , wastewater

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