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Henrik Hagemann (CustoMem)

Henrik Hagemann won a Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award in February 2017 for his business, CustoMem.
Lack of clean water is predicted to affect 47% of the world’s population by 2030.1 Contamination of water supplies by industrial micro-pollutants, such as metal ions, pesticides and industrial chemicals, plays a major role in limiting people’s access to safe water and are also proven to be dangerous to people’s health.2 But while many associate the problem with the developing markets, it is actually widespread around the world. A study by the Environmental Working Group in the US found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from babies, many of which had the potential to cause cancer in later life.3  
Water treatment standards in the UK are generally high, removing over 99% of pollutants from our water. However, an issue remains with 0.04% of pollutants left behind which go undetected by regular water treatment methods.4 These micro-pollutants are highly toxic and contribute disproportionately to the contamination of surface water.

London-based start-up, CustoMem, is dealing with this growing issue by cleaning industrial water beyond regulatory levels. As traditional methods of water treatment don’t go far enough, CustoMem has created a technology that is able to capture these harmful pollutants and dispose of them safely, either via incineration or by selling them on to a refinery. CustoMem, led by Imperial College London alumnus, Henrik Hagemann, who is also the first two-time winner of the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) award, is also looking into ways to recycle the pollutants, thereby creating a closed loop system for the business.

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