Industrial innovations from Thessaloniki and Crete

By Thanasis Tsinganas

Researchers in Thessaloniki and Crete recently presented two revolutionary products that may just conquer the world.

One, developed at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki?s School of Engineering under the supervision of Professor Manassis Mitrakas, is known as AquAsZero and it is designed to clear arsenic from drinking water, providing a solution for many parts of Greece and the rest of the world. The other, a pioneering photocatalytic material of nanotechnology developed by the Foundation for Technology and Research on Crete under Professor George Kyriakidis, can be mixed with emulsion paint and helps clean the environment of pollutants in homes and offices.

These new materials, presented on the last day of the Thessaloniki International Fair as part of a research and innovation project sponsored by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) and Eurobank EFG, are already being mass-produced by a company in Sindos, a suburb of Thessaloniki, and companies from three European Union countries have expressed an interest in acquiring them.

Domestic producer Loufakis Chemicals has been a participant in the AquAsZero project since its inception, while the proposal received funding in 2009 from the 7th Community Support Framework. After testing more than 100 compositions, the members of the research team finally produced the new grainy substance that filters water of toxic and other carcinogenic elements to a much greater degree than two other similar products, made in Germany, that are available on the market.

?It is more effective because it has better absorption (50 percent) than the other competitive products. It immediately removes all arsenic III and V. It also lasts longer and costs less than 10 euros a kilo, which is the price of the existing product,? Kyriakos Loufakis, the firm?s president and CEO, told Kathimerini.

The pilot production unit in Sindos will soon be able to produce 1 ton of AquAsZero a day. It is currently being used by an oil distillery, while the company is looking at the possibility of exporting filters to India and Bangladesh.

In Greece, areas such as around the Axios River delta, parts of Halkidiki, Kos and Serres, as well as parts of Kavala, Larissa and Imathia, where there is a problem with high levels of arsenic in drinking water, can benefit greatly from this new product. According to Loufakis, Greece needs around 300 tons of AquAsZero a year, while there is also a market for the product in countries such as Hungary, Spain and especially the United States.

Equally impressive results have been reported by researchers on Crete concerning a material which can deconstruct pollutants and clean the air inside constructions whose occupants suffer from sick building syndrome. According to research, urban residents spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors, and the atmosphere around them is polluted by all sorts of factors, including simple breathing, cooking, using cleaning agents etc. The product developed by Professor Kyriakidis and his team is a powder that can mixed into paint or whitewash. It is activated by both sunlight and artificial light and it helps dissolve pollutants. For the time being, it is still in the testing phase, though on a broad scale.