Masdar Institute claims membrane breakthrough
Patent filed for new anti-fouling membrane innovation
Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has announced that it has achieved a breakthrough in developing a new membrane that can operate in an ‘in-situ’ cleaning system for desalination purposes. The innovation is aimed at preventing membrane fouling, using novel nanomaterials.
Masdar Institute’s Dr Nidal Hilal, Professor in Nano-membranology and Water Technologies, and Dr Raed Hashaikeh, Associate Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, have together invented the new system.
“We have developed new materials to add new functionalities to the membranes, thus enabling this innovative solution to tackle the fouling problem. Based on the preliminary results at the lab on sample membranes, the new technique can provide extremely efficient cleaning of membrane fouling. Our next step is to evaluate the effectiveness and applicability of the technique at the pilot scale. However, this is truly a technology breakthrough for Abu Dhabi and Masdar Institute,” said Dr Raed Hashaikeh.
Dr Nidal Hilal said: “The degradation of membrane performance due to (bio) fouling and scaling is a major concern for membrane processes in desalination industry, water and wastewater treatment technologies. The membrane degradation involves the deposition of organic, inorganic and biological materials on the surface or inside the porous structure of the membrane. A number of physical and chemical techniques have been used for periodic regeneration of the membranes, which necessitate stopping of operations or removing the membranes from the structure. The new system developed at Masdar Institute addresses this key challenge and comes as a boon to the operators of desalination plants.”
Masdar says that the cleaning new system can actually prevent membrane fouling in the first instance, using a “clean and simple periodic procedure without external additives.” Using seawater as a part of the system, the steps required for desalination are reduced.