According to the World Bank, some 60 million people live in regions that are polluted with arsenic, and the number of patients with arsenic poisoning rises to 700,000. This is particularly true in developing countries. In the EU, the maximum arsenic level in water allowed is 0.01 mg/l, a figure that should not be surpassed according to the World Health Organisation. According to a study conducted by the ICRA, in Spain mining residues on numerous occasions pollute the water and land of several regions. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that arsenic is one of the chemical elements which most harms human health due to its presence in drinking water, and its presence in high concentrations in several regions of the world.
The research team at the Separation Techniques Group (GTS) at the UAB has worked with Leitat Technological Center to develop the AsFree project, an innovative and economic system used to filter effluents (acid rain or wastewater) polluted with arsenic using a cartridge filter. The project aims to obtain a filter cartridge capable of treating up to 0.5 m3/h with a cost of approximately €0.001 to €0.33/m3.
The research conducted jointly by the two centres until now has allowed them to demonstrate a huge improvement in the capacity of absorption when comared to other existing commercial products, with an up to 600% increase in efficiency.
Participating in the development of AsFree on behalf of the UAB are Professor Manuel Valiente, Dr Montserrat Resina, Dr Gustavo Pérez, support technician Manuel Sevilla and PhD student Xiangyang Lou. In the case of LEITAT, the development team is made up of Dr Diego Morillo, Dr Marcel Boerrigter and Dr Sonia Matencio. The project also includes the involvement of a business mentor, Dr Oscar Prat, Director of AERIS, Tecnologies Ambientals S.L., located in Cerdanyola de Vallès.
The project's reference number is 2019 PROD00030, and is being developed under the framework of AGAUR's 2019 Industry of Knowledge call for grants (Products modality). This project is co-funded by the EU's European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) as part of the ERDF Operational Programme in Catalonia 2014-2020, with the support of the Secretary for Universities and Research of the Ministry for Business and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia, with a total budget of €99,896.10.