Dr Daniel Malko, a postdoc from the Department of Chemistry, has co-founded a start-up called SweetGen with Dr Javier Rubio-Garcia and Professor Anthony Kucernak.

SweetGen is developing an innovative fuel cell that is capable of consuming organic molecules present in waste water – such as sugars – to generate electrical energy.

The device would enable faster, lower cost and less energy intensive water treatment procedures for industrial sites such as breweries or agriculture facilities, where water with a high concentration of organic contaminants is produced.

The energy produced from this process could be then used to power the plant, helping reduce costs further.

Dr Malco said: “The Techcelerate Programme is helping me to focus my mind on discovery and innovation. It is very customer-oriented, and we are encouraged to constantly think about who our end users are and what they need. This is incredibly useful in terms of establishing how a technology you’ve developed in a lab can be best put to use in the real world, and where a potential market might be.”

Cleaning dissolved organic molecules in industrial wastewater has a cost of $90 billion per year. SweetGen could save these industries up to $12 bn/year.