How wastewater without microplastics becomes possible.
(Offical press release from Partslife GmbH, Foto by Partslife GmbH)
Microplastic is a growing environmental problem. These smallest plastic particles are now present almost everywhere. In rivers and seas, they enter the food chain. Fish ingest them via the water and ensure that microplastics can be found on our plates. The reason for the increased occurrence of microplastics is, among other things, improperly disposed of plastic waste, but also contained in cosmetics or textiles or produced microplastic particles. The company Wasser 3.0 from Karlsruhe has developed a new process with which microplastics can be filtered out of the wastewater, among other places, in the sewage treatment plant. It has now received an environmental prize from the environmental management specialist Partslife.
“Even if we immediately stopped disposing of any plastic in the environment – microplastics would keep us busy for a long time,” explains Dr. Katrin Schuhen, Managing Director of Wasser 3.0. “Because all visible plastic, which is already in the environment, is slowly broken into smaller and smaller pieces until it is also amongst the smallest particles. Water carries it on, animals confuse it with food and then the microplastics may eventually become part of our food. “The new technology called Wasser 3.0 PE-X® allows the microplastics to be filtered out in the sewage treatment plant.
Simply filter out “lumpy microplastics”
Wasser 3.0 PE-X® is a new material-technology combination that combines the smallest particles to form large particles. As a result, these “microplastic clumps” can be very simply filtered out of the water purely mechanically. In Wasser 3.0, you do this in three steps: first, you localize the particles, and then you cause them to wax and fix them in this way, and finally you remove them from the water. There are non-polluting silicon-based compounds that cause sticking and clumping of the particles. They are then no longer micrometer-sized, but theoretically could also be collected by hand. Many smaller particles larger than micrometers will become balls with a diameter of two to three centimeters due to the treatment using the Wasser 3.0 PE-X® process.
No burden on the environment
This results in microplastic-free water. The filtered-out particles can be burned. Recycling is also under investigation. Combustion produces the substances carbon dioxide, water and silicon dioxide, the harmful effects on the environment are very low, and the ash can be used, for example, as a soil compactor. Dr. Katrin Schuhen has been researching this technique since 2012. First, she experimented on a small scale in the laboratory.
The entire process can be realized without large single-use investment costs for the installation, with reduced costs for maintenance and operation, since the entire technology is installed in mobile, stackable containers. The consumption of chemicals depends on the degree of pollution. This is determined analytically in advance and monitored throughout the overall process. At the end of the process, clean water, proper recycling of waste products and protection of sewage sludge from microplastic contamination remain.
Wasser 3.0 PE-X® already in use
In the meantime, the process is being used in two sewage treatment plants for test purposes.
The goal of Schuhen and her team is no less than to make their small contribution to the “salvation of the world”. They want to tackle the increasing global problem of microplastic loads in water and, therefore, also in food with an adaptable solution for “home and everyday use”. In concrete terms, this means that Wasser 3.0 PE-X® can be used wherever microplastic removal is required, from wastewater treatment plants to industrial process plants, to in-house applications or even to seawater utilization processes. “The special feature of the materials of Wasser 3.0 is that they not only work for microplastics but can also be combined,” says Katrin Schuhen. “That means we can better respond to different pressures, visible or invisible in the water and make the overall process more efficient.” In the end, the team has a big goal – clean water – worldwide. Doing research and development, talking and sensitizing – Katrin Schuhen, the founder and inventor, together with her team for seven years in new projects to improve water quality and their implementation in our water purification systems.
Video about the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svwN4pamXAg
About the Partslife Environmental Award
The Partslife Environmental Award was presented for the first time in 2012. The aim of the prize is to promote environmental and working conditions and to encourage other companies to emulate them. The prize recognizes innovative and exemplary measures for environmental protection, the implementation of which requires the employees of the companies.
Partslife is an initiative of the independent automotive parts market with more than 50 contracted system partners from industry and trade. The company assumes responsibility for the disposal and recycling of the products as well as for the fulfillment of the legal requirements of the End-of-Life Vehicles Ordinance and the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act.
Workshop disposal: In co-operation with certified waste disposal companies (Efb) we coordinate the collection and disposal of workshop waste of all kinds for 11,000 workshops.
Packaging: Anyone who manufactures and sells products must ensure proper disposal of the sales packaging in accordance with the Packaging Ordinance. Partslife has developed the industry solution PVS for manufacturers and sellers especially for the automotive industry.
Occupational safety: Partslife guarantees legally compliant, occupational health and safety-related care in the workshop and provides comprehensive advice on potential hazards.
Energy: Partslife takes care of a holistic energy consulting: lighting, heating and control technology. After the analysis, the customer receives a detailed report, practical and with concrete tips for implementation.