ICRA-CERCA researcher Jelena Radjenovic obtains a Proof of Concept Grant from the European Research Council

Jelena Radjenovic, researcher at the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA-CERCA), is one of the recipients of the Proof of Concept Grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). Created by the European Union, the ERC finances the best researchers of any nationality, helping to pursue great ideas at the frontier of knowledge.

Radjenovic has obtained this grant for her work with the GRAPHEC project, with which she has managed to develop a low-cost graphene sponge anode capable of breaking the C-F bond without forming toxic by-products through electrochemical processes that have allowed addressing the challenge of the presence of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl 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 test its long-term performance in PFAS degradation from complex waste streams. . This will allow answering the scientific and technical questions necessary for the adoption of technology by the water industry, many of them related to the fundamental mechanisms of breaking the C-F electrochemical bond and the characteristics of anodically polarized graphene.

Building on the results achieved so far at laboratory scale, the GRAPHEC technology has strong potential to evolve into a sustainable, chemical-free destruction technology for PFAS-laden wastewater, achieving its complete destruction at ambient temperature and pressure. , in modular units, with low capital and operating cost.
Finally, this project also aims to maintain existing IP and engage early adopters of the technology in Europe, and worldwide, to form a network of future customers and achieve Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 by the end of the Project.

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

About the Proof of Concept Grants of the European Research Council

In total, 366 researchers have benefited from the Proof of Concept Grants, which are distributed with the aim of helping researchers bridge the gap between the discoveries derived from their frontier research and the practical application of the results, including the early stages of its commercialization. These grants are part of the European Union's research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

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

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