Read the full article by Deborah Evanson

“…Henrik Hagemann co-founded CustoMem with fellow Imperial student Gabi Santosa in 2017. The company has developed a unique chemical process which can capture and hazardous micropollutants found in industrial wastewater.

Current water treatment methods often leave behind contaminants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and high performance chemicals in wastewater. These pollute global freshwater supplies. According to the Water Status report, published by the European Environment Agency in July 2018, only 40% of surface waters such as lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters meet the minimum target of ‘good’ ecological status.

Hangemann and his team have initially focused on capturing Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from industrial wastewater. PFAS are man-made chemicals used in industry and consumer products such as non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and firefighting foams.

These chemicals are very persistent in the environment, meaning they can accumulate over time. There is also evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

CustoMem have developed a product, known as CustoMem Granular Media (CGM) which can selectively capture PFAS so that they can be safely removed and disposed of. The material can also be customised to capture different kinds of contaminants.

CustoMem say that in its first tests, CGM has proven to be ten times more efficient to eliminate PFAS and 40% cheaper than its main competitor in the market. They have already tested their product at an airport in Germany, and plan to implement it in a London airport.

Grzegorz Wróblewski, Associate Professor of the Warsaw University of Technology and jury member of the Innovators under 35 Europe 2018, said that this project is capable of ‘helping to protect the environment on a global scale’.”