Graphene technology firm set to revolutionise water filtration market

A COMPANY using the transformational material, graphene, to revolutionise the water filtration industry has moved into new lab and office space to support plans to take its innovative product to market.

G2O will take on more staff after moving its headquarters to the North East Technology Park (NETPark), in Sedgefield, County Durham, where it is working with close neighbour CPI (Centre for Process Innovation) on two projects, worth a total of £1.7m, to commercialise its groundbreaking technology.

The firm has recently secured a further £1m equity investment in a second funding round, including £200,000 from the Finance Durham Fund, which is overseen by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, to increase its research and development facilities.

G2O was established in 2015, following many years of research into how 2D nano materials, and in particular graphene, can reduce the cost and increase the performance of water filtration. Graphene is considered the world’s strongest material and G2O has been using a derivative, graphene oxide, which consists of multi-layered carbon 2D sheets, to produce a highly effective coating on existing membrane based filtration systems.

David Pears, chief technical officer at G2O, said: “The beauty of our technology is you don’t need to replace the water filtration system, we can improve what’s already there. By increasing the flux rate and the rejection rate, the coatings  reduce amount of energy required to operate the systems thus reducing the cost of water filtration.

“Fundamentally we help with the removal of contaminants from water – whether it’s salt, fats, chemicals or any form of dirt or detergent. We’re able to tune a membrane to be selective around what it removes. There’s a huge amount more we could do. It’s really exciting.”

G2O’s coatings cover a wide range of water filtrations treatments – from industrial and municipal waste water to domestic drinking water and desalination. The company secured its first round of funding in 2016. Its board and advisory group include Jeremy Pelczer, non executive director and ex CEO of Thames Water, and Professor Tom Stephenson – pro vice chancellor, research and innovation, at Cranfield University.

NETPark, which is run by Business Durham, working on behalf of Durham County Council, is an ideal base for the company given the other like-minded companies on site. G2O is currently working on two projects with CPI.

David said: “We looked around northern England for an appropriate base for our technology laboratory and noted the many benefits of locating our team at NETPark. We now have a fully fitted laboratory with all the necessary equipment  along with 4 PhD scientists to further develop the technology ready for commercialisation.

“The facilities are excellent and Business Durham has been fabulous, very helpful. It’s also extremely beneficial to have CPI on our doorstep as they are based at NETPark too. CPI has given us a tremendous amount of support, with such a huge range of equipment and being on the same site makes for effective collaborative working.

Our first Innovate UK-backed project allowed us to invest £700,000 in proving and developing our base technology with a focus on oil and water separation.  We are now working on our second Innovate UK-backed project with CPI with a focus this time on domestic water filtration solutions for developing economies in partnership with a global FMCG company, with an investment of £1m.

Brian Archer, managing director of Business Durham, which works on behalf of Durham County Council, said: “G2O has found the perfect environment in NETPark to take its product to market and we’re delighted to see it is already taking advantage of the expertise on its doorstep in its collaboration with CPI. One of the fantastic things about the park is the support that companies can give each other, whether it’s mentoring or sharing skills, knowledge and lab space.”

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