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Treesearch Insight 2023

16. Bio-based smart materials for water treatment

Sritama Mukherjee* and Ulrica Edlund


Industrialization and population growth result in huge impacts on water, air, and soil. Mistra TerraClean research program aims to develop new, smarter materials for novel and existing technologies to achieve a smoother and more efficient purification of water and air. Under this program, we target to synthesize the materials from scratch, providing them with smart functionalities and testing them under real conditions in case studies together with industry partners. The contaminants addressed are of increasing concern to the environment and human health, such as PFAS substances, VOCs, pharma products, pathogens, heavy metals and so on that require significant materials for remediation and sensor technologies.

As a part of this program, we focus on synthesizing novel materials for scavenging heavy metals from the contaminated water around mining sites. Another case study package motivates us to develop antifouling coatings for water-carrying crosslinked polyethylene pipes. And lastly, we also develop materials or membranes that can trap microplastics contaminated water from laundry emissions. All aforementioned materials are the results of biopolymer (lignin, cellulose, chitosan, cyclodextrin, etc.) functionalization and their composite formation. Various field water samples are analyzed and the synthesized materials are characterized and tested against each type of contaminant.


  • D Georgouvelas, et al., Carbohydrate Polymers 2021, 264, 118044.
  • S Mukherjee, et al., ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2019, 7 (3), 3222-3233.