UU Innovation

Student project for knowledge and inspiration

During two years Björks Rostfria AB in Hallstavik and three students from the Ångström Laboratory have been working together in a true win-win collaboration with support from UU Innovation's Ångström Materials Academy. The collaboration has given the specialized industrial company new knowledge essential for its development work. The students have got inspiration and experience of work in a real industry project.

Clean water with smarter technology and less energy. Björks Rostfria in Hallstavik develops technology for water purification by means of nanotechnology in special membrane filters, a technique where no chemicals are used to clean the water. This is a proven technology that requires less energy than water purification in traditional water works.

The challenge, and the idea that the collaboration project focused on, was to decrease the energy consumption even further with renewable energy – sun, wind and maybe a but unexpected, the energy stored in the water.

P-O Björk, CEO at Björks Rostfria, is more than satisfied with the collaboration.

“We have our knowledge, but we don’t know all that the university knows. The project has shown that together we are strong. That both parties are interested and willing to work together is key to really good cooperation. We have been very well received by Uppsala University, there is a curiosity and a positive attitude to collaboration,” P-O Björk says.

For the students at the Ångström Laboratory the collaboration proved extremely interesting.

“The three students who took part directly felt that ‘now we are in business, this is for real’ and ‘it’s we in the project that together lay the foundation for something that may result in a continuation’.

“Our collaboration focused on a pilot project on Gotland where we have made an installation. The students presented our results for the municipality’s representatives, who even took a break from their vacations in order to learn about the results, results that showed that the idea can be realized. The project has demonstrated that the water purification plant can be run by renewable energy and that it can even return surplus energy.”

P-O Björk, CEO at Björks Rostfria in Hallstavik.

Positive results obviously. Results that P-O Björk is fairly sure would not be at hand without the students’ participation in the project.

“We would have had difficulties to proceed with our idea to give customers working with nanotechnology for water purification an opportunity to further reduce their energy consumption. Now we have gained the knowledge we need to continue the work and realize our idea.

P-O Björk says that it is important to look for collaboration with students at the universities in order to meet the challenge to develop Sweden’s small and mid-sized industrial enterprises.

“I think it’s important not to be taken aback. When you run a business you know what you can and what you want to achieve. If you have a good idea but not all the knowledge necessary to realise it collaboration with university students may be the way to go. My experience is that the universities want to take part and contribute,” says P-O Björk, who has already started a new project together with researchers at the Ångström Laboratory. This time it concerns an investigation of material structure in connection with the use of a new welding technique.