New factory to extract alginate-like raw material from waste water

17 November 2016 by Communication TNW

Rijn en IJssel Water Authority is investing 11 million euros in the construction of a factory to extract a new, alginate-like polymer from waste water.

The polymer, also referred to as NEO (Nereda® Extracted Organic) alginate, is a sustainable raw material with some unique properties. It can hold but also repel water, and its potential uses include as a thickening or sizing agent, a coating or stabiliser.

Currently, alginate is obtained from seaweed. It is used to a limited extent in the medical world (moulds for dentures, alginate plasters and cough medicine). Through a smart combination of existing and new techniques, it is possible to extract this new alginate-like material, which has strong similarities to conventional alginate, from sludge granules that form during the Nereda® water treatment process. TU Delft's Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht developed this treatment process.

Yuemei Lin, assistant professor in Van Loosdrecht's research group, discovered that the polymer in Nereda® sludge granules is primarily alginate. She is now working with doctoral candidate Simon Felz on further research. Prof. Stephen Picken and PhD candidate Jure Zlopasa are researching a wide range of potential material applications for the alginate-like polymer.

Rijn en IJssel Water Authority will extract this new raw material from residual water from FrieslandCampina dairy production sites in Lochem and Borculo. Construction at the De Mars industrial estate in Zutphen is expected to start in the spring of 2017.

Vice recently visited the Environmental Biotechnology group for the documentary 'Microbros' (from 12:50 onwards). Alginate was also discussed in this documentary.

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