From poison til profit

Published 01-05-2023

New documentary lets you follow Case van Genucthen as he gathers observations and experiences from the field for his project 'From Poison to Profit'.

Case van Genuchten is standing in front of large blue tanks. He is adding water into a test tube. A colleague is looking at test tubes next to him. They are wearing bright blue robber gloves.
Case van Genucthen and a colleague are looking at tests from the tanks. (Photo: Underground Channel.)

A new documentary by Undeground Channel is called 'King of Poison' because arsenic is referred to as the 'king of poisons'. A king that Case van Genuchten wants to overthrow.

Case van Genuchten laughs when asked what his title should be if arsenic is the 'king of poisons'.

"I don't know if I would be the 'King of poison removal'. Or maybe even the 'King of poison removal and transformation of the toxic waste product'. But I suppose it is typical for us researchers to be both precise and long-winded," says Case van Genuchten with a grin, referring to his research on removing arsenic from drinking water and investigating the potential to invent a method for recycling the by-products of this process. He hopes to kill two birds with one stone by removing an unwanted substance in one scenario and potentially adding it to another where it is in demand, namely in industry.

Geogen arsenic poisoning through drinking water is linked to a range of health risks. In India and South Asia, where Case van Genuchten is testing a purification plant in Kolkata, arsenic poisoning is such a widespread problem that it is referred to as the largest mass poisoning in world history. In addition to contributing to solving a health problem, the project can also contribute with an innovative addition to circular economy.

Arsenic is removed from water using iron or steel. This is done by passing the water through a plant with several metal plates that are charged with electricity, causing rust to form, in which arsenic is bound and sinks to the bottom. And it is precisely this bottom layer of by-products that Case van Genuchten wants to turn into economic value for the local areas where the method can be used. Therefore, Case van Genuchten is looking at a method for extracting and ensuring a high enough quality of arsenic from the by-product for industry to use as raw material for production purposes.

About the project: From Posion to Profit

‘Poison to Profit: Developing Resource Recovery Technologies for Arsenic-rich Waste’ is funded by the Danish Independent Research Council and is part of a larger Geocenter Danmark initiative aimed at developing methods for resource recovery from residual products generated during water treatment in Denmark and rural areas of India, which have been severely affected by geogenic arsenic contamination.

Case van Genuchten
Senior Researcher
Malene David Jensen-Juul
Communications Officer
Press and Communication