Central Florida Startup Partners with Swedish Organizations to Clean Toxins from Contaminated Waterways in Sweden
ecoSPEARS announced this Monday that the cleantech solutions company, along with its Swedish partners Umeå University (UMU) and SWECO, have been awarded a grant to deploy ecoSPEARS’ namesake NASA-developed clean water technology in Sweden later this year. The grant will fund the deployment of the Sorbent Polymer Extraction And Remediation System (SPEARS) as part of the Swedish Geotechnical Institute’s (SGI) TUFFO program to research and study the impact of innovative technology within contaminated areas of Sweden.
“We are extremely proud of being awarded this project from Swedish EPA,” said ecoSPEARS CEO and co-founder Serg Albino. “Our partners at UMU and SWECO have a true focus on sustainable environmental technologies such as SPEARS that can remediate contaminated waterways without causing additional harm to aquatic habitats or disrupting nearby communities.”
According to SGI, the TUFFO program exists to “create opportunities and prerequisites for new research and development projects concerning contaminated sites and increased collaboration between researchers and the industry.” SGI goes on to say that in order to reach Sweden’s goal of “a non-toxic environment within a generation,” the rates of remediation practices and the subsequent knowledge generated from said projects must be expedited.
SPEARS – a technology consisting of plastic spikes embedded in a scalable mat-liner, absorbs environmental toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, and dibenzofurans (PCDD/F) “like a sponge”. SPEARS allows for increased absorption capacity of these toxins, preventing them from becoming reintroduced into surrounding waters or sediments, passively absorbing them into the SPEARS over time. Once the absorption process is completed, the SPEARS are removed from the environment and the toxins trapped inside to enter a secondary destruction process where they are broken down and destroyed via chemical dehalogenation, at ambient temperatures and pressures. This method prevents the need for the addition of harmful chemicals to destroy the toxins or environmentally destructive methods such as capping or dredging to remove them from the environment.
A 2009 report generated by SPEA and UMU states that more than 10% of the Swedish population ingested daily amounts of “dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs above the tolerable daily intake (TDI) limit recommended by the European Commission.” It goes on to state that while PCDD/F and PCB concentration levels in offshore Baltic sediments have decreased since the 1970s – largely due to “extensive reduction of emissions” – PCDF concentrations within the Bothnian Sea show no decline. PCB concentrations in Bothnian and Baltic sediments have shown a steady decline since the 1970s, but remain present within the Baltic Sea, harming local fish and preventing shoreline properties from being developed to unlock potential economic value for Sweden. A SPEARS deployment in Sweden aims to provide an alternative non-thermal PCB removal technology for Sweden to utilize in addressing lingering environmental contamination.
“Deploying SPEARS in Sweden with our partners is a key stepping stone not only for ecoSPEARS but the Swedish government as well as the European Union’s environmental initiatives,” said ecoSPEARS Executive Vice President and co-founder Ian Doromal. “ecoSPEARS is committed to assisting our partners and their communities in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the Stockholm Convention. By proving to Sweden, the EU, and other regional stakeholders that SPEARS is a more cost-effective and truly sustainable method to remediate environmental toxins like PCBs and dioxin from contaminated areas, we can assist those stakeholders in improving the health of our environment and communities.”
The announcement of the project award comes just one month after ecoSPEARS was accepted into the 2020 cohort for Imagine H2O (IH2O)– one of the world’s most prestigious clean water accelerator programs. IH2O assists companies with innovative water technologies to develop their solutions to address some of the world’s most challenging issues related to clean water. As a mission-driven non-profit organization, IH2O’s Clean Water Accelerator is one of the vehicles the organization uses to help its cohort companies gain traction, along with introductions to investor networks as well as a Demo Day for the Accelerator’s cohort companies during IH2O’s Water Innovation Week, which will take place in San Francisco during the week of March 23rd, 2020.
ecoSPEARS’ deployment in Sweden is planned to take place over the course of 3 years (2020-2023) to evaluate the company’s innovative technology for sediment remediation in Sweden. UMU will assist primarily in data evaluation and analysis, with SWECO and SGI reporting the data findings to SPEA before disseminating them for public consumption. The project award aims to permanently remove environmental toxins from impacted shorelines in Sweden to unlock potential value related to land use and redevelopment in the country’s former Soviet bloc. UMU’s researchers will also calculate the cost of using the technology, investigate the risk of spreading plastic fragments from the spikes and carpets in the environment, as well as how the overall environmental impact of implementation can be reduced
“In our project, we will evaluate the applicability of the SPEARS method to Swedish sediments and temperature conditions by conducting experiments in both lab-scale and in the field,” says UMU’s Stina Jansson. “Among other things, we want to see how the method works on a wider selection of environmental pollutants and how the levels of organic matter in the sediment affect the purification.” The deployment of SPEARS in Sweden from the project award will assist ecoSPEARS, UMU, and SEPA in laying the groundwork for implementing the SPEARS technology on a larger scale in Sweden in the future.
At ecoSPEARS, we know that toxic chemicals are polluting our land and waterways. We’ve developed green solutions to eliminate toxins from the environment, so everyone has access to clean water, clean food, and clean air. ecoSPEARS is the exclusive licensee of NASA-developed green remediation technologies to permanently extract and destroy persistent toxins from our environment in a way that is cost-effective, non-disruptive to communities, and protective of human health and environment.