Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Development of natural nano-enabled adsorbents and filter membranes for laundry water's purification and its subsequent (in-situ) re-usages for domestic textile laundering processes

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.14.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Textile and leather   

Code Science Field
T150  Technological sciences  Material technology 

Code Science Field
2.05  Engineering and Technology  Materials engineering 
Naravni nanomateriali, adsorbents, filter membranes, water reusage, textile, domestic machine laundering.
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (13)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  26417  MSc Suzana Arnuš  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2016 - 2019  133 
2.  23451  PhD Urh Černigoj  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2016 - 2019  168 
3.  15322  PhD Vanja Kokol  Engineering sciences and technologies  Head  2016 - 2019  515 
4.  35240  Miroslava Legiša    Technical associate  2016 - 2019 
5.  32880  MSc Polonca Lesjak  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2016 - 2019  22 
6.  33865  PhD Lev Matoh  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2016  48 
7.  10440  PhD Aleš Mihelič  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2016 - 2019  103 
8.  05537  PhD Branko Neral  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2016 - 2019  320 
9.  35494  Kristina Obu Vazner  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2016 - 2017  19 
10.  19268  PhD Zdenka Peršin Fratnik  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2018  225 
11.  32726  PhD Tina Simčič  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2018 - 2019  22 
12.  18438  Darko Štanc    Technical associate  2016 - 2019  75 
13.  29811  MSc Vera Vivod  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2016 - 2019  94 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0795  University ob Maribor, Faculty of mechanical engineering  Maribor  5089638010  24,290 
2.  1446  Gorenje Household Appliances  Velenje  5163676000  1,113 
3.  1655  Sartorius BIA Separations L.t.d., Separations technology company  Ajdovščina  1319612  1,114 
Domestic textile laundering is a complex process where significant amounts of electric energy (0.97 kWh/washing) and water (8.4 mill L; 60L water/washing) are necessary for ensuring appropriate cleaning and disinfection efficiencies. At the same time it produces large amounts of laundering wastewater (5 mill L) that when being purified and reused would also help to achieve the desired environmental goals (20% increase in energy efficiency, 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions) in line with the EU Framework Water, Energy and Waste Directives for 2020. While the wastewaters decolorization by using different natural or synthetic coagulants, adsorbents, ion exchangers and/or advanced oxidation procedures is time and space questionable, the purification of rinsing waters with natural coagulants is promising but a time-consuming process. The prevention of re-deposition of impurities (mainly colorants) during the laundering is still research limited, focused mainly on the dye-transfer-inhibitors, synthetic polymers, and efficacy-limited colour-catchers. Beside, the usage of liquid bleach-free detergents and low-wash temperatures (30-40°C), preventing the elimination of biological organisms (above all highly-resistant viruses), thus leading to adverse secondary micro-biological effects (unpleasent odour, risko of infections). The AIM of this project is to develop prototypes (reaching TRL 6) of entirely bio-based, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly (compostable or dischargeable): i) sheet-like adsorbents working as sponges with the abilities to trap and absorb different loose colorants (dyes, pigments) and nano-sized viruses by ion-exchange (physic-chemical) principles, thus preventing their re-deposition on the other textiles during laundering, enabling the obtaining of the same or even better washing effects and preserving the original colours of the textiles; and ii) a set of filter membranes acting synergistically and in a successive manner as highly efficient and selective filters for removal of typically present laundering impurities (i.e. polysaccharides, proteins and fats; micro-sized bacteria) by ion-exchange and size-exclusion principles, thus enabling the purification of rising laundry waters to the level of their reusability in-situ during the next washing cycle. This would be achieved by using ionically selective/adsorptive and mechanically-stable cellulose nanofibrils (EU FP7 NanoSelect, TRL 4) in a combination with highly crystalline meso-to-macro nanoporous organophilic minerals (zeolites), or by their incorporation (TRL 2-3) into nano-to-micro porous but highly hydrophilic and renewable biopolymeric matrixes, thus further provide besides specific ion-exchange, high size-exclusion permeability also. Successful accomplishment of the project aim is guaranteed by the balance of skills, specific but multidisciplinary, and complementary expert knowledge of three partners involved: UM by developing and demonstrating bio-based adsorbents and filter membranes, as well as evaluating their performances on a lab-scale under different washing conditions, protocols and impurities; project co-founder GORENJE Ltd by evaluation of adsorbents and filters/membranes within a real environment by pilot-scale washing cycles; and BIA Separations Ltd by evaluation of adsorbents/membrane porosity and selectivity, measuring of mechanical and flow-properties, and their evaluation in relation to specific biomolecules adsorption/entrapment. New high-tech value products developed would bring high application impact to the EU’s leading home appliance manufacturer GORENJE Ltd, thus direct socio-economic benefit by contributing to economic growth and competiveness. The know-how established is expected to be further exploited in developing a process for the isolation/purification of large biomolecules, being a relatively new and highly-interested technology to BIA Separations Ltd, a leading manufacturer of monolithic chromatographic col
Significance for science
Undoubtedly, there is a clear basic and novel scientific contribution with high impact from each RTD partner involved through several well-defined and structured experiments that would be designed to understand the basic structural, physic-chemical and hydrodynamic features of the film adsorbents and filter membranes, their correlation under different conditions, and further optimisation for efficient and straightforward final application. Beside, launching of new engineering platforms for nano-materials assembling and distributing in different polymeric matrixes of variable porosity or even their setting in a multi-layer filter membranes using existing cost-effective and easily up-scalable technologies will bring innovative knowledge in this area with possible applications in other sectors, above all food (in beverage filtration to remove bacteria and other undesired micro-suspensions/aggregates), biotechnology (purification and separation of processes), biomedicine (manufacturing of porous scaffolds for tissue regeneration and drug delivery) and pharmacy (for selective fractionation or separation of biomolecules as conjugated proteins or cells ). Although, several design challenges will need to be addressed to enable large-scale products manufacture, the project will thus definitively provide also an important technological contribution to the filled of adsorbents and filter membranes manufacturing, thus expected to target not only European but also the world-wide community. Accordingly, through this project all partners, and above all the UM, are expected to broaden its competences in matching industry needs towards new applications, resulting to higher standards and promotion not only within the national academic and technological scenario, but also internationally, regarding patent submissions, publications in scientific journals. In this framework, the proposed project is expected to have a high market impact with potential of sustainable growing for the all participating partners, leading in a long-term to an economic growth and employment due to broader consumer product appeal and thus new distribution channels for each of them. Considering the level of TRLs reached in the proposed project, this initiative also matches well EU’s intent on investing in enterprise and innovation, thus enhancing Europe’s competitiveness in global markets by transferring and verification results of scientific research and technology knowledge to industrial partners and into new commercial products.
Significance for the country
GORENJE LtD is one of the largest Slovenian net exporters (90%) with 3.7 million annual sell of large household appliances in more than 70 countries around the world. It is the eight largest appliance manufacturers in Europe with a market share of 3%. / Euromonitor's forecast shows growth in the European market for laundry machines and dryers to 6.5% in the next five years. The highest growth rate is estimated on markets in Eastern Europe (up to 36 %), and less on the markets of Western Europe (up to 8%). Gorenje believe that existing share on the EU market can be achieved with the new generation of laundry machines by selling of additional 30.000 machines a year. The sale would generate annual revenues of around 10 mil €. / The implementation of the project is extremely important also for the preservation of jobs and in terms of presence and competitiveness in the global and EU market. With the implementation of the project new knowledge will be provided about textile laundering, and improvement of the efficiency for new and existing appliances will be established. On the market Gorenje will offer energy and ecology efficient appliances with higher added value. / Among the other important aspects are improved image, improved awareness of workers about the care of production sites selection and simplification of service. The knowledge and the results obtained during the project will help BIA Separations LtD at further optimization of the technological processes for manufacturing of advanced 3D-structured chromatographic column with specific topography, morphology, biocompatibility and/or degradability, to be used also for biomedical, pharmaceutical or technical applications. BIA is a leading manufacturer of monolithic chromatographic columns for the isolation/purification of large biomolecules (viruses, DNA, proteins), under its own trade mark CIM®. The rapid progress in cell biology, immunology, and molecular biology has opened a new niche at the biotechnology market,, i.e. cell separation where the new concept of separation has to be developed. Furthermore, the scale-up production technology for porous materials is foreseen to be commercialized (or further licensed to a commercial company) through a new spin-off established by UM (or alternatively as a joint spin-off of this consortium). Beside of new generation of porous filter membranes developed, the know-how gained from the technological process to tailor materials properties will be available for other applications as chromatographic columns, biomedical scaffolds, etc. The long-term goal is to transfer at least one material development into the commercialization practice, means that UM expects to deliver at least one (patented) product resulting from this project, and prepare a business plan for it by established networking & partnership relationships with both industrial partners involved.
Most important scientific results Final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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