Safer water - polymers for enhanced cryptosporidium recovery

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Energy & Renewables
Energy & Renewables

University: Heriot Watt University

Sector(s): Energy & Renewables, Chemical, Energy & Renewables, Food & Drink, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences

About Opportunity:

The Challenge

Delivery of safe drinking water to a growing global population is a serious challenge. Protozoan pathogens, and especially Cryptosporidium, are particularly problematic since these organisms are ubiquitous in the environment, have an extremely low infectious dose and are resistant to standard chlorination disinfection procedures. However, there are still a considerable number of drawbacks with the existing procedures as the methods are costly, labour-intensive, time consuming, with low recovery rates and little information on the species or viability of any detected pathogens.


This polymer-based technology aims to reduce some of these problems and streamline and improve the process. Initial studies utilizing our novel polymers as filter coatings indicated, as expected, that these coated filters improved the Cryptosporidium recovery and filter performance as compared to those of uncoated samples, due to the specific interactions between the polymers and the protozoa.

Exemplification Data

Polymer microarray studies revealed different adhesion behaviour between viable and non-viable oocysts and that pH and proteinase K treatment affected binding, whereas surface roughness and wettability do not. Additionally, the technology has been proven in polymer coated 13mm diameter filters.

Key Benefits:

  • Ability to capture the pathogens effectively, not merely due to filter pore size enhances efficiency and recovery
  • Repellent polymers may be useful in the design of better filtration products to aid elution of captured material
  • Emerging technologies, such as UV treatment, would benefit from showing oocysts are non-viable following treatment


  • Coatings or direct manufacture of filters for water monitoring
  • Coatings or direct manufacture of filters for water treatment
  • Proof of viability for UV treatment verification
  • Filters for at tap use or in solutions for travellers

IP Status:

Priority patent application filed


Targeting Cryptosporidium parvum capture. Wu M et al. Water Research 2012, 46, 1715-1722

Commercial Offering

The University is seeking industry input and support from water suppliers or filter manufacturers.


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