Swedish start-up Aquammodate has been named by the Biomimicry Institute as a finalist in the Ray of Hope Prize for its water purification technology, and the winner of the US$100,000 prize will be announced on 15 June.
Aquammodate says its technology has the potential to reach 100 times the productivity at 100% selectivity for the same energy input as desalination technology. It harnesses ocean-based stabilisation of natural components to put existing membranes on par with natural performance.
The company has developed a bio-inspired method to stabilise aquaporins, which selectively facilitate water transport across the cell membrane of all living cells and uses their features in water purification and treatment processes. The key stabilisation components are lipids and silicon dioxide (silica). The lipids are dual purpose as they mimic the natural environment of the aquaporins and act as the impermeable component in the filter. Silica provides the biological components with mechanical and chemical robustness while preserving their structure.
In water treatment, Aquammodate’s component has the potential to cost-effectively prevent small pollutants, such as pharmaceutical residues, metals, and microplastics, from being released into rivers, lakes, and oceans through wastewater streams.