The SmarText project, developed by a team of Atlântica researchers, will prevent nearly 85% of food oils and fats originating from wastewater treatment plants from reaching rivers and the sea.
The invention, which aims to solve the pollution of water resources, involves the creation of natural and biodegradable filters, made of cellulose and clay, which will retain most of the oils and fats that pass through the Wastewater Treatment Plants, preventing them from ending up in the sea.
At the moment, only a very small quantity, estimated at 15 to 20%, of oils and fats are currently retained in the Wastewater Treatment Plants, where they are disposed of without being recovered in any way. This new invention will capture 85% of these fats, through nanoparticles present in the filters.
The remaining oil, which reaches rivers and the sea, is one of the biggest pollutants of water resources. One litre of oil is enough to contaminate a million litres of water, enough for a person to live till they are 40 years old, as the Atlântica researchers behind the invention explain.
In addition to the low production cost of these filters and the beneficial effects for the environment, the project will promote circularity in another way: by adding value to the oil collected in the filters, through its sale to the biofuel industry.
The idea was one of the three winners of the 2020 edition of the programme Born from Knowledge Ideas, promoted by the National Innovation Agency. The other winning ideas were a software that uses Artificial Intelligence to connect the aviation sector in Blockchain, and a game that aims to bring back motivation in education.
The projects gained access to a 3-month Science and Technology acceleration programme, with the aim of empowering them and accelerating their process of transferring knowledge into products or services to the market. Smartext already has partners such as Águas de Portugal and Prio, which also stand out in this respect.