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Breakthrough in water purification thanks to chemical marvel from Meppel

Only three percent of industrial wastewater in Europe is currently reused. A special substance developed in Meppel could significantly increase this percentage, crucial in times of freshwater scarcity.

Source: Hannah van der Korput, Change inc.

The substance, named FerSol, is rightfully considered a breakthrough in wastewater treatment. FerSol stands for Ferrate(VI) in solution. Ferrate(VI) is not new. It has long been known in science as a promising substance for cleaning heavily polluted water. However, there was one problem: the substance was not stable and had a short shelf life. This problem has been solved by the Dutch company Ferr-Tech. Co-founder Judith le Fèvre says, “Ferrate(VI) has always been a green oxidant with enormous potential. But because it was not stable, it had to be used immediately. This made it impossible to market and commercially unviable.”

Two months shelf life

After years of research, one of Le Fèvre’s partners found a way to stabilize the substance. She does not reveal how this was achieved, but it is clear that it works. “Instead of just a few seconds, we can now keep Ferrate(VI) stable for two months. This is long enough to market it and apply it on a large scale in the industry.”


Because the industry is the target audience. “That’s who we’re focusing on. We are also in talks with water boards, but it can take a long time to really break into that market. Ferr-Tech has been around since 2020, and of course, money has to be made. We certainly don’t rule out water boards, but the focus is on the industry.”

According to Le Fèvre, the industry is struggling with two challenges that FerSol addresses. “The first is that many companies have trouble meeting discharge standards. The water used to cool machines or clean production lines can only be discharged if strict standards are met. Companies are already struggling to meet these standards, which are becoming increasingly stringent.”

Reuse of wastewater is also a theme that concerns many industrial companies. In most cases, the water is made dischargeable and then discharged. This can be improved, she believes. “There is a shortage of freshwater. We need to move towards reusing water as much as possible. This is hardly happening yet. Only three percent of industrial wastewater in Europe is currently reused. That percentage needs to increase rapidly.”

Reuse of wastewater is also a theme that concerns many industrial companies

63 percent stronger than chlorine

This is where Meppel’s FerSol can help. The substance is incredibly powerful: 63 percent stronger than chlorine. It cleans wastewater so thoroughly that it can be reused. “Because it is so powerful, only a low dosage is needed. When a little FerSol is added to polluted water, the contamination is oxidized, causing it to sink into flakes. These can then be easily filtered and removed. The rest of the water is clean and clear. This can be discharged, but it’s even better if it’s reused.”


FerSol is so powerful that it also works at lower temperatures. And it performs multiple tasks. “Where many chemicals have only one function, this is different with FerSol.” Le Fèvre cites the steel industry as an example. “There, the process water is cleaned in multiple steps and with five agents. In many cases, we replace multiple chemicals with one substance, namely FerSol. This is much more efficient. FerSol lowers the temperature and shortens the duration of the cleaning process. This is good news for companies. It saves energy.”

Not harmful to humans and the environment

But the biggest advantage compared to other chemicals is that FerSol is not harmful to humans and the environment. “I don’t mean to say that it’s not a potent substance. Because it is. For example, you shouldn’t put your hand in it. When we add Ferrate(VI) to the water, it reacts. What remains in the water after the process is not harmful to humans and the environment. Traditional chemicals leave harmful by-products in the water and are difficult to remove. This does not apply to our substance. This makes it a green alternative.”

The company has seen triple-digit growth

Award-winning innovation

The Meppel invention is gaining global recognition. The water treatment product has won several awards. Recently, Ferr-Tech was named the most innovative company in the Netherlands by the Chamber of Commerce.

Triple-digit growth

In addition to awards, the innovation also brings in a lot of orders. In recent years, the company has seen triple-digit growth, Le Fèvre says. “The demand is growing. Companies see the added value of FerSol. The price is higher than traditional chemicals, but a low dosage is enough. It also saves energy. We also hear from companies that FerSol not only cleans the water but also keeps the machines cleaner. This means less maintenance is required. That’s a side effect we didn’t even anticipate. All in all, it makes for a good business case.”

Meppel’s substance is going global

The company in Drenthe currently has two production lines producing between 2,000 and 4,000 kilograms of FerSol daily. An additional large production line is being worked on to meet the expected growth. Ferr-Tech supplies its product in Europe and America. It also sees an important market in the Middle East. “Water is an important issue there. We will explore that market this year,” says Le Fèvre. With the global spread of the product, additional production locations are also important. After all, FerSol has a two-month shelf life, and it takes time to transport it to the other side of the world. Local production is therefore important, but in the meantime, Ferr-Tech is also working on further improving the product. “Then we are indeed talking about shelf life, but also about concentration and the potency of the product. Innovation is important. We want to stay ahead.”

No shortage of staff

Although the company is growing rapidly, it is not short of staff. “When we have a vacancy, we are inundated with responses. That’s nice and also very rewarding to see. We have an innovative product that offers many opportunities. I think that helps to make us an attractive employer.”

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