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  • Oxyle’s technology uses water movement to remove contaminants • australiabusinessblog.com

Oxyle’s technology uses water movement to remove contaminants • australiabusinessblog.com

Unesco calls water pollution one of the most important challenges facing societieswith 2 million tons of wastewater entering the world’s waters every day. Oxyle wants to help solve the crisis with a new wastewater treatment that removes micropollutants. The Zurich-based startup today announced $3 million in pre-seed funding that it will use to bring its technology to market. The round was led by Wingman Ventures with participation from SOSV, Better Ventures and another.vc.

The new capital brings Oxyle’s total amount raised to date to $7.4 million since its inception in 2020. The startup’s clients include companies in the pesticides, chemicals, textile pigments, electronics and pharmaceuticals industries regulated by strict discharge limits.

Oxyle’s wastewater treatment was developed five years ago by co-founder and CEO Dr. Fajer Mushtaq during her PhD research at ETH Zurich. While earning her master’s degree, Dr. Mushtaq with synthetic chemicals to develop new nanomaterials for biomedical applications. That resulted in wastewater containing toxic chemicals that required special treatment and disposal methods. Since there was no effective way to remove the chemicals, the wastewater had to be incinerated.

“For me, this way of handling water has not only been costly, unsafe and highly unsustainable, but it has completely destroyed one of our most precious resources,” said Dr. Mushtaq. “The more I researched this topic, the more I learned about the immense scale of incineration practiced by small and large international companies.”

She decided to focus her PhD research on developing new catalysts to remove micropollutants. Dr. Mushtaq then teamed up with co-founder and CTO Dr. Silvan Staufert to integrate Oxyle’s water treatment solution into a scalable technology platform. Since then, Oxyle has conducted paid pilots with industrial and municipal clients and expanded its team to 17 people.

Oxyle’s wastewater treatment removes micro-pollutants, including PFAS (chemicals found in products such as cleaning solutions, water-resistant fabrics and non-stick cookware), pharmaceuticals, hormones and pesticides. It involves a nanoporous catalyst (a material with a large surface area that takes energy) developed by Dr. Mushtaq. When the nanoporous catalyst is activated by water movements such as bubbling or vibration, a chemical reaction occurs. The chemical reaction generates oxidative radicals that break down organic pollutants into carbon, fluorides and other harmless minerals.

Oxyle uses modular reactors to deploy its technology. For companies that need to comply with discharge regulations, Oxyle also offers an analytics platform for real-time monitoring of micropollutants connected through its reactors.

The startup continues to conduct on-site paid pilots with customers to get feedback on its technology. It has worked on projects with agrochemical companies whose production processes result in high levels of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. That wastewater is usually incinerated, but Dr. Mushtaq said they were able to remove more than 95% of the compounds by using Oxyle’s technology. The startup has also done environmental remediation projects at industrial clients to bring contaminants, including PFAS, in groundwater below the detection limit.

Other wastewater solutions include activated carbon technology (to absorb pollutants) and membrane filtration technology (to filter out pollutants), which are widely used around the world to treat wastewater. But dr. Mushtaq said contaminants still remain on the spent activated carbon or in concentrated water left over from the filtration process. These technologies also lead to high operating costs, as the activated carbon or membranes must be replaced.

The advantage of Oxyle is that it breaks down micropollutants without creating secondary waste. The nanoporous catalyst is long-lasting and fully recyclable, added Dr. Mushtaq to it. But Oxyle sees filtration technologies as partners rather than competitors because the highly concentrated wastewater they leave behind can be treated using Oxyle’s methods.

The startup is expanding its technology platform to cover more use cases, including flow-through systems (or artificial water channels), ultra-compact systems like those used in labs, large-scale use cases like municipal wastewater, and low-cost solutions for emerging economies. Oxyle is also working with companies and R&D institutes to improve the speed and cost-effectiveness of its pollutant analysis system.

In a statement, Alex Stöckl, co-founder of Wingman Ventures, said: “Our freshwater resources are depleting at an alarming rate and toxic micropollutants in water are causing serious damage to our health and the environment. New regulations will require companies to take action. But beyond that, we must use sustainable technology to protect our precious water resources for us and our future generations. We are proud to support Oxyle on their journey to address our global water problem so everyone has access to clean water.”

Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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