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Wasser 3.0: Unimagined potential for water without microplastics and micropollutants

About the blog

Dr Katrin Schuhen
CEO at Wasser 3.0 gGmbH.

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  • Wasser 3.0: Unimagined potential for water without microplastics and micropollutants

The concept of sustainability is vague and used too often as inflationary. We deal with supposed sustainability - for marketing and image reasons. The fact that we are still only discussing limit values for microplastics and many micropollutants without implementing them is extremely short-sighted and negligent. Nonetheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Microplastics are becoming a circular economy issue and are therefore also of economic interest.

Microplastics are ubiquitous in the environment and firmly anchored in the public consciousness as a global environmental problem. Wastewater treatment plants have been shown to be a major entry point of microplastics into the environment; estimates from studies show that each wastewater treatment plant in the Global North transports between 93 million and 8.2 billion plastic particles into rivers and oceans every year. This is because these particles, like other micro- and nanoscale pollutants, are inadequately retained despite three stages of treatment. Detecting and removing microplastics poses enormous challenges to science and industry. At Wasser 3.0, we have developed efficient, cost-effective, and circular solutions for the detection, removal, and reuse of microplastics from (waste)water with an ecologically and economically undreamt-of potential.

Microplastics are ubiquitous in the environment and firmly anchored in the public consciousness as a global environmental problem

Wasser 3.0 PE-X® is a novel approach based on a combination of physical agglomeration and water-induced chemical fixation according to the Clump & Skim principle. Hybrid silica gels are added to the water in a simple process. Through stirring, they clump together with the microplastics and/or micropollutants to form popcorn-like agglomerates. These float to the water surface where they are then removed without the use of filters. The composition of the waste products makes them eminently suitable for recycling. The detection and evaluation of contamination scenarios and adaptability of the hybrid silica gels are the key to success. In this way, tailored solutions are developed for different types of contamination, water compositions and process environments. The non-toxic high-tech materials and sophisticated low-tech technologies are flexible, adaptable, and scalable. They can be integrated into existing processes either as a stand-alone solution or as an add-on. The overall process is designed to be climate-friendly and energy-efficient. Low operating costs make the modular concept future-proof. It can be used both as part of the 4th purification stage and in other pollution scenarios involving industrial wastewater, surface water or seawater.

Thus, the process provides far-reaching and holistic opportunities for industry and municipal wastewater treatment plants to conserve resources and save costs. Companies that produce, process, and recycle plastics are among the first users. In addition to microplastic removal, process chemicals and process waters are recovered at a desired pH and temperature, or microplastic-free and COD-reduced effluents are discharged. Further, the recovered agglomerates are suitable substitutes for insulation and construction materials.

In addition to further development and scaling of its technology, Wasser 3.0 focuses on responsible research and education around microplastics. Wasser 3.0 is not a classic tech start-up. As a non-profit GmbH, its mission is water without microplastics and micro-pollutants through responsible research and eco-friendly innovation, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Profits from commercial business operations are reinvested directly and 100% in research and education projects. Collaboration and sponsorships make research and innovation in this business surrounding possible and impact driven.

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