Recovery of industrial toxic waste as an industrial precursor for the manufacturing of high-value nanomaterials

Toxic wastewater containing silver cyanide (AgCN) coming from the galvanic industry is normally treated in a chemical precipitation plant, where the addition of hydroxides promotes the precipitation of insoluble species, which are filtered, pressed, and sent to landfills. In this way, the metal is not recovered. During the GREEN Silver project, supported by the EIT RawMaterials Booster, Particular Materials has shown that this water can be used as a precursor for the synthesis of silver with TiO2 nanoparticles. The toxic cyanide anion is decomposed in the process, and the silver ion is precipitated into nanoparticles through the proprietary process. A precursor of TiO2 is added, resulting in a TiO2 nanoparticle with silver (Ag) nanoparticles. Particular Materials has demonstrated that the resulting product can be used as an effective antibacterial agent.

At Particular Materials, we are bridging the manufacturing gap in advanced materials synthesis. We have created a manufacturing platform for the synthesis of several nanomaterials that can be scaled up to manufacture from kg to tons to serve the industry.

Marco Bersani, CEO of Particular Materials

Recovering precious resources

By recovering silver from industrial wastewater, Particular Materials prevents a precious resource from reaching the landfills. At the same time, decreasing the production cost of valuable material (silver nanoparticles), which is already widespread and can find new applications thanks to a lower cost. The citizens will benefit from the solution by cleaner and healthier land around them. Particular Materials is working to bring the product into the building and construction sector where the price is a key differentiating factor, while also working to include the product into kitchen tops and other surfaces in the household as well as on flooring and other walking surfaces.

Connecting matters

EIT RawMaterials has supported Particular Materials since the very beginning. In 2019 the company was awarded EIT RawMaterials Booster funding for the GREEN SWAMP project. The project demonstrated that commonly used precursors for the process, consisting of metals salts dissolved in water can be replaced with spent baths from the surface finishing industry, combining the production of high-quality nanomaterials with the removal and recovery of heavy metals from industrial wastewater, using a sustainable and fully circular process.

With the GREEN Silver project awarded during 2020, EIT RawMaterials was an important support to sustain the ongoing development of Particular Materials, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, which had a great impact on activities. The result of the GREEN Silver project is a product that soon will be commercial and is currently under testing at customers’ and partners’ facilities.

Our technology is based on the chemical-physical properties of supercritical water for the continuous synthesis of nanomaterials. With the GREEN Silver project, supported by EIT RawMaterials, we have demonstrated that we can use industrial wastewater as a starting material for the synthesis of our products, thus realising a fully circular economy of scale, and at the same time decompose toxic substances such as cyanides.

Marco Bersani, CEO of Particular Materials

When the product will be launched on the market, EIT RawMaterials will support Particular Materials’s growth introducing the start-up to its vast network of partners from across the raw materials value chain.

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