Water pollution from medications, biocides, and industrial chemicals is on the increase because sewage plants do not break down many of these substances, so they are released into the environment. Although sewage treatment plants usually have a downstream activated carbon adsorption system, even here the trace substances can only be partially retained. Especially polar substances often remain in the water, since activated carbon primarily binds non-polar and less polar substances.
In the project BioSorb we develop together with the Fraunhofer UMSICHT new adsorbents that can eliminate such molecules from municipal wastewater. The approach is based on renewable raw materials which are more resource-friendly and significantly more selective than conventional activated charcoal filtering. Especially promising are protein-based materials, called bioadsorbents, because these are cheap and a nearly infinitly available worldwide.