Following our successful ERC consolidator project, our group just got granted a Proof of Concept ERC project!

Proof of Concept (PoC) grants are worth €150,000 each and can be used, for instance, to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts. The grants are part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.

The project we got granted aims to bring closer to the market a new kind of adsorbents to purify water by eliminating its heavy metal ions (arsenium, mercury, etc.). It is the first time that the ICN2 receives one of these grants.

Previously, in the framework of our ERC-funded project, we developed a spray-drying technique to support inorganic nanoparticles (INPs) on microscale, porous, metal-organic framework (MOF) superstructures. These structures are spherical beads that combine the excellent adsorption and selective capabilities of both INPs and MOFs. They can also be collected and recycled easily and cheaply. Another important aspect to highlight is the fact that spray-drying (the process optimized for fabricating the beads) is a well-known fabrication method that is widely implemented in industry.

We are glad to be receive one of the 4 ERC PoC Grants awarded to Spanish institutions!

Learn more about the awarded projects in:

Project abstract:

Each year, millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. In particular, exposure to heavy metals in drinking water, even at trace levels, poses a considerable health risk. As included in one of the seventeen sustainable development goals of the United Nations, “safe water and adequate sanitation are indispensable for healthy ecosystems, reducing poverty, and achieving inclusive growth, social well-being and sustainable livelihoods”. In this PoC project, named Hybrid Bead Adsorbents (Hybead), we aim to evaluate the feasibility of advancing Hybrid Inorganic Nanoparticle/Metal-Organic Frameworks Bead-type adsorbents into the pre-commercial stage, with the aim of accelerating their access to the market as an efficient technology for removing heavy metal ions from water.

The first part of Hybead encompasses scaling-up of our current spray-drying synthesis of these beads from the gram-scale to economically viable kilogram-scale production. We will also shape the composite beads for proving its use into existing water purification technologies. This will entail shaping Hybead into granules and integrating them as fillers into polymer matrices to produce membranes by common industrial-scale methods (e.g. compaction and solvent casting). The second part of Hybead will be dedicated to intellectual property (IP) and market aspects needed for the pre-commercialization of this new technology for water purification. This study will include a patentability study, a freedom-to-operate (FTO) analysis and a market study to identify the filter producers that could ultimately serve as manufacturing partners.

In this project we will endeavor to assess the commercial viability of with Hybead adsorbents, accelerate their market entry and ultimately, explore the possibility of launching a spin-off to manufacture and commercialize viable products.


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