More than Water, More than Waste

Building a sustainable future demands a commitment to harvesting resources from wastewater.

The recovery of water, nutrients, metals, and minerals from liquid wastes, is key to sustaining renewable energy sources, advancing agricultural productivity, and reducing the depletion of primary sources.

By shifting the focus from water treatment to water resource recovery, we enable industry to transition to a circular economy – creating a blueprint for the future that fulfils the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the World Bank Waste to Resource imperative. 

And given the waste from 1 million people is estimated to contain resources in the order of AUD$20 million per annum – there is also a strong economic imperative. 

MTE are committed to harvesting the value of wastewater

Membrane Transporter Engineers (MTE) have turned to the molecular composition of plants to design the ‘harvesting’ componentry.  By mimicking modular plant functionality, MTE have created novel resource separation technologies.

Current commercially available protein-embedded membrane separation tools enable the isolation of pure water from waste liquids. MTE’s technology goes further – delivering separation systems that harvest nutrients, metals and minerals from complex wastewater solutions – resources that can be reused, recycled and repurposed.

The technology developed by MTE expands application opportunities, offering advantages over existing membrane separation systems.

The Science

Controlling membrane metal, mineral and nutrient permeability is important for all cellular life and plants have evolved complex membrane separation mechanisms to adapt to specific soil compositions and to distinguish between resources and waste. Inspired by advancements in biological research, MTE have translated that plant functionality into the delivery of technological innovation that enables specific nutrient and element separation from liquid wastes.

Plant science has an important role to play in responding to the environmental challenges we face today.

MTE’s technology has enormous potential to positively impact industry and resource security.   The team invites engagement and collaborations with a range of partners – let’s start the ‘harvest’.

The MTE Team

MTE is the brain child of plant scientists, Associate Professor Caitlin Byrt, Dr Annamaria De Rosa and Dr Samantha McGaughey, from the Australian National University Research School of Biology.




Fluid solutions borrowed from nature

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The research team thank ANU for supporting the MTE initiative, which involves translating research outcomes from the Byrt lab at ANU into solutions for future resource management.