1. What is the main goal with Mistra TerraClean?
Mistra TerraClean develops smart and safe engineered materials and devices for clean air and water. More specifically, we aim to tailor-make membranes and filters that adsorb chemicals (such as NOx, VOCs, and heavy metal ions) from contaminated air and water.
By smart, we mean materials that interactively respond to, and perform in a controlled fashion, based on stimuli from the environment in operation and the condition of a filter.
We aim to evaluate our materials with regard to environmental and safety aspects in a safe-by-design manner.
Ultimately, we want to contribute to reach the national and global environmental and health aims in air and water quality and to establish a strong interdisciplinary research and innovation platform.
2. Any specific achievements during this past year?
It is great to see the momentum set in the entire programme. All work packages are up and running and – importantly – the iterative feedback processes interlinking all activities are established.
Materials with high and selective adsorption capacities are being produced. We demonstrated the first hybrid materials with embedded sensors, for instance, cellulose membranes with printed electronics photocatalytic activity. Our first Life cycle assessment is currently underway where we screen the chemistry of our material candidates from a sustainability and toxicology point of view. The LCA data is key in the selection of relevant materials and solutions which will proceed into the specific case studies.
3. Any challenges that you have encountered?
One of the major challenges for the program is to move from promising laboratory-scale trials to working products in larger scales. The volumes of polluted air or wastewater to be purified are considerably larger in a real industrial setting, and the controlled conditions prevailing at the lab never become the same in industry.
4. What impact do you think the research within this programme will have on our society?
Our materials may improve environmental conditions in Sweden: better air and water quality, and support the growth of Sweden’s smart materials industry.
The products that are developed have the potential to significantly improve current technologies and solutions, which would have a positive effect on competitiveness.
We hope and believe that Mistra TerraClean will foster a long-term national hub capable of providing competence and expertise required to keep Sweden in the forefront with respect to research and enterprise in new materials for cleantech applications.
5. Hopes for 2019?
When the materials are developed and their functions validated in the laboratory, it is time to level up: to test their function on a larger scale and with real effluents under more authentic conditions. I hope that the first case studies at the partner companies will start in 2019.