Degrading the “undegradable”
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) include a large variety of substances such as pesticides, surfactants or wood preservatives (i.e. creosote mixture) as well as products released from industrial activities (i.e. dioxins, polyaromatic hydrocarbons). Heavy metals is another group of compounds causing severe environmental problems. A new group of potentially hazardous chemicals have come into focus in recent years: pharmaceuticals and molecules with endocrine disrupting activity.
The department has focused much attention on developing biotechnological methods, either alone or in combination with physical treatment, to degrade or immobilize these hazardous compounds. Sometimes the concentration at which the hazardous compound is present is very low, and then an enrichment step is used before treatment. This is used especially for endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals.
Dye remediation is another area where biotechnological treatment methods can be used for the treatment of textile dyes using biological and physico-chemical techniques. In textile industries, considerable amounts of water and chemicals are used. During the dyeing process about 20% of dye is lost to the wastewater and wastewaters from textile industries usually contain large amounts of dyes as well as organic matter, salts and other substances. The target of the project is to deliver a viable treatment method to the textile industry for cleaner production. More information see homepage of Dye remediation group.