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CGG, Brunel University London and Swansea University Partner with Innovation Company Matter to Characterize Micropollutants Captured by Domestic and Industrial Filters

Paris, France | Jan 20, 2022

CGG Environmental Science has successfully completed a project with partners Matter, Brunel University London and Swansea University to characterize micropollutants and contaminants, including microplastics and synthetic fibers, captured by domestic and industrial filters. Matter, an innovation company, pioneers technology solutions for capturing, harvesting and recycling microplastics. The project applied an innovative and integrated micropollution analysis workflow established by CGG at its advanced Geoscience Laboratories in North Wales and the Experimental Techniques Centre (ETC) at Brunel University London.

Samples included residue caught by Matter’s state-of-the-art filtration technology from clothes washing machines and multi-use industrial sites. A range of techniques, including CGG’s rapid mass screening method for micropollutant detection and ETC’s micro-FTIR and thermal analyses, were applied. The domestic appliance samples contained a mixture of polyester, rayon, nylon and cotton/synthetic fiber blends together with embedded fragments of acrylic, paints or resins. Industrial site samples were found to be heavily polluted, containing tyre particulates, paints, polypropylene and polyester with high levels of zinc, copper, chromium and lead.

The common goal of this highly innovative multi-disciplinary research partnership between industrial and academic organizations is to prevent micropollutants from entering the environment, harming organisms and entering the food chain. The analysis workflow proved to be highly effective at identifying and characterizing materials within complex mixed samples. This approach can be scaled to quantify micropollutants and contaminants in large volumes and contribute to the UK government’s 25-year environmental plan to achieve zero avoidable plastic waste by 2042, and zero avoidable waste by 2050.

Adam Root, Founder & CEO, Matter, said: “The micropollutant analysis of the material captured in our state-of-the-art filtration technology provides a clear picture of the range and scale of contaminants that are washed into our drainage systems every day from domestic and commercial activities. These microparticles end up polluting our waterways and natural environment, causing health risks for us too. This excellent work by CGG, Brunel University London and Swansea University provides insightful scientific analysis that will support Matter on its mission to not only stop microplastic pollution but help find solutions for that material to be fed back into manufacturing and support a circular economy.”

Dave Priestley, VP, Energy Transition & Environment, CGG, said: “This successful micropollution project contributes to CGG’s growing portfolio of environmental monitoring solutions that offer a range of stakeholders, including industry, charities, NGOs, local authorities and government agencies, tailored integrated workflows based on our advanced data analytics and technology to address their specific environmental challenges.”

Left: Scanning Electron Microscope image of suspected paint or acrylic fragment, embedded within synthetic fibers captured from a domestic washing machine filter (image courtesy of CGG). Right: ATR-FTIR image of synthetic fibers from household laundry (courtesy of Brunel University London).