The Eramet Open Innovation challenges organized by Eramet Ideas and EIT RawMaterials invite start-ups and SMEs from all over the world to propose innovative solutions to help face the challenges of the mining industry. In 2023, the candidates were asked to propose solutions to better manage and optimize water resources used by Eramet’s activities.

The winner this year is Weeefiner, a pioneering Finnish company specializing in water treatment and metals recovery. In just 7 years, Weeefiner went from innovative university research to first industrial pilot tests.

The green transition requires lots of metals and commercial demand is increasing. Metals are mostly extracted from the ground, but that’s not the only place where you can find them: they’re also present in water. For example, over 2 million kilograms of metals are discharged in industrial wastewater every year. It’s a huge potential!

Mikko Hänninen
Weeefiner CEO

Weeefiner’s innovative product, 4D Scavenger, is designed to do precisely that: recover metals in wastewater from industrial processes.This is next-generation technology for water treatment, as it will help recover a maximum amount of raw materials and increase industrial productions’ sustainability,” comments Mikko Hänninen.

A 3D-printed porous filter targets the dissolved metals and produces both a metals concentrate and clean water. This technology can recover either selected group of metals or only a specific metal and can be tailored to any metal.  The advantage of the solution is twofold: recover valuable metals and purify water. Several Over 60 pilot tests have already been carried out by Weeefiner for leading industrial companies, and a first permanent installation is expected by the end of this year.

This collaboration with Eramet provides a unique opportunity for us to advance our technology and to improve the client’s sustainability. It’s a big step for Weeefiner to grow in Europe and beyond, thanks to the support and opportunities provided by an international mining group like Eramet. The coaching by the Group’s experts was invaluable to gain knowledge of the processes and technical understanding.

Mikko Hänninen

As first part of its collaboration with Eramet, Weeefiner is working on filtering nickel out of wastewater from Eramet Norway’s Porsgrunn plant, which produces silicomanganese and ferromanganese. A pilot test is scheduled for 2024 on the site, and other Eramet sites have also expressed their interest in validating this solution to improve their water management.