Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have developed a new technique to prevent pharmaceutical residues from entering waterways and harming wildlife.

The new water treatment technology — called membrane distallation — separates drug residues from sewage with the help of district heating, says Andrew Martin, a professor at KTH’s Institute of Energy Technology who worked on the development project with IVL and Scarab Development AB.

Martin says that water vapor passes through a thin, hydrophobic membrane of material similar to Goretex, and through an air gap, where it condensed onto a cold surface. Drug residues collect on one side of the membrane and pure water on the other.

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