St Petersburg University Innovation Centre for Environmental and Industrial Technology (ICEIT) has successfully completed testing of a coagulating adsorbent. It is a special substance capable of removing heavy metals from industrial wastewater. The main thing about this R&D project is that the adsorbent is produced from fuel oil ash and steel production wastes.

The coagulating adsorbent consists of small grey granules added directly to liquid waste. These granules remain at the bottom of the settlement tank. They are able to adsorb heavy metal ions from the solution. This development makes it possible to minimise harm caused by such hazardous wastes as liquids after acid etching or waste solutions of electroplating baths.

According to the experts, using such granules may reduce, for example, the amount of: zinc to 0.02 mg/l, this being 100 times less than the threshold limit value (TLV) for this metal in wastewater specified in the Sanitary Rules and Regulations; copper — up to 0.02 mg/l, which is 50 times less than the established norms; and nickel — up to 0.03 mg/l, which is three times less than the TLV, etc.

One of the main advantages of the adsorbent is its low production cost, because the main raw materials are steel production wastes as well as ash produced after burning fuel oil at thermal power stations. In addition, unlike the most popular aluminium-based coagulants which leave aluminium ions in the already treated water, the adsorbent developed at St Petersburg University reduces its concentration to 0.2 mg/l.

The St Petersburg University Innovation Centre for Environmental and Industrial Technology develops products, technologies and solutions aimed at improving the quality of water treatment. Its priority areas include: organisation of environmental control; development of solutions to problems related to waste management; search for environmentally friendly solutions for industry; organisation of quality control for products and production processes; as well as reverse engineering of products and technologies.

Today, wastewater treatment is a burning issue. The problem is not the availability of the adsorbents as much as the implementation of new processes. Only a few industries consider it necessary to use such technologies, because the fines imposed on enterprises for discharge norms violation are not heavy. They range from 1,000 to 50,000 roubles for various categories of persons, so it is often easier for them just to pay. Our company is focused not only on producing granules for wastewater treatment, but also on implementing environment-friendly production processes in general — by providing a comprehensive solution of environmental problems and environmental monitoring.

Alexey Ivanov, ICEIT Director General, St Petersburg University

The entrepreneurs are planning to commercialise the coagulating adsorbent within six months. At the moment, the certification procedure is underway, and the first deliveries to St Petersburg enterprises have already been agreed upon. The company is also about to launch production of various high-tech goods for Russian consumers, a commercially viable alternative to imported products.