Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

ICRA-CERCA researcher Jelena Radjenovic receives a grant from the European Research Council

Wednesday, 01 February 2023

Jelena Radjenovic , researcher at the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA-CERCA), is one of the people awarded with the Proof of Concept Grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC, for its acronym in English). Created by the European Union, the ERC funds the best researchers of any nationality and helps pursue great ideas at the frontier of knowledge.

Radjenovic has obtained this aid for his work with the GRAPHEC project, with which it has been possible to develop a low-cost graphene sponge anode capable of breaking the CF bond without forming toxic by-products through electrochemical processes that have made it possible to address the challenge of the presence of polyfluoroalkylated and perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) in water.

The objectives of the GRAPHEC project

The next steps of the project are to scale the electrochemical treatment based on graphene sponge electrodes to a higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and to test its long-term performance in the degradation of PFAS from currents complex residuals. This will answer the scientific and technical questions necessary for technology adoption by the water industry, many of them related to the fundamental mechanisms of CF electrochemical bond breakdown and the characteristics of polarized graphene anodically

Based on the results achieved so far at the laboratory scale, the GRAPHEC technology has a strong potential to evolve into a sustainable and chemical-free destruction technology for PFAS-laden wastewater, and to achieve its complete destruction at temperature and ambient pressure, in modular units, with low capital and operating costs.

Finally, this project also aims to maintain the existing intellectual property and engage the early adopters of the technology in Europe, and worldwide, to form a network of future customers and achieve a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 by the end of project

The project aims to provide a new platform technology for the removal of toxic and persistent chemicals from water and play a key role in the EU’s Green Deal Agenda to ensure a toxic-free environment.

About the Proof of Concept Grants of the European Research Council

In total, 366 researchers and researchers have benefited from Proof of Concept Grants, which are awarded with the aim of helping researchers bridge the gap between the discoveries arising from their frontier research and the practical application of the results , including the first phases of its commercialization. These grants are part of the research and innovation program of the European Union, Horizon Europe.

In addition to Jelena Radjenovic, from ICRA-CERCA, seven other Spanish researchers have received scholarships: Antoni Ivorra and Rubén Durante, from Pompeu Fabra University; Sílvia Osuna, from the University of Girona; Frank Koppens, from the Institute of Photonic Sciences; Neus Sabaté, from the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona-CSIC; Víctor Vilarrassa, from the IDAEA-CSIC, and Diego Romero, from the University of Malaga.