Resource recovery. Reimagined.
The Science of Separation: Retein’s ground breaking nature-inspired technology.
Our patented molecular separation technology was initially developed over the course of a PhD project conducted by the Retein cofounders within Chalmers University of Technology. Retein was founded in 2019 with the aim to bring this technology for energy-efficient and high precision recovery of resources from water to people and industry in need.
Nature’s finest resource recovery is performed with molecular precision by channel proteins. Different proteins provide gateways for water, nutrients, metals, and other resources to move in and out of every living cell. Their outstanding molecular precision comes from sub-nanometer sized channels that are equipped with additional barriers to only select for a specific molecule or class of molecules.
Our starting point is the channel protein called aquaporin. As the name suggests, it functions as a highly precise channel for water passage. Its discovery in 1992 was awarded the 2003 Nobel prize in Chemistry and is a key component of living cells in all of life, including humans, animals, and plants. As such, its performance has been optimized by nature for a very, very long time to uniquely combine outstanding precision with energy-efficiency.
Channel proteins like aquaporins (blue) act as gateways across the cell membrane (brown). By combining the cell membrane with protein channels, the cell is equipped with a filter that allows it to selectively recover resources from its surroundings based on its needs. These parts are soft and squishy and not well suited to withstand external pressure. Ocean-living diatoms therefore strengthen their recovery filter by applying a silica coating (grey) on top.
Patented strengthening of Nature’s outstanding sorting.
Our aquaporins are produced through biomanufacturing and subsequently purified and stabilized by silica via a patented process inspired by diatoms. Silica is the main constituent of sand and the production results in a white powder of water-recovery capsules.
The capsules are incorporated into conventional polymer membranes to act as energy-efficient fast tracks for water through the separation membrane. We are currently scaling in-house membrane production and work with partners around filter module production.
Benchmarking shows that our nature-inspired membranes outperform commercial separation membranes in terms of water purity and energy-efficiency, as well as the combination of the two. Further optimization towards specific separation processes is conducted with partners to capture the value of nature’s outstanding resource recovery.
According to the Global Resources Outlook, we are rapidly depleting the Earth’s finite resources without regard for the consequences, resulting in climate change and a decline in biodiversity. Now imagine the potential impact if we were to implement Retein’s technology on a global scale.
Get in touch!
If you’re interested in learning more about how we use nature-inspired technology to harness the value of waterborne resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below. Whether you’re an individual or an organization, we’re eager to connect with you and answer any questions you may have.