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Develop methods of manufacturing customized flexible membranes using laser technology

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Lasers open holes in filtration membranes

EU-funded scientists developed laser technology to open tiny, well controlled pores in filtration membranes for use in many industrial and municipal applications.

Industrial Technologies

Much as a strainer enables one to remove the pulp from freshly squeezed orange juice, filtration membranes are used throughout industry and by municipalities to remove solid or particulate matter from liquids and gases. Most polymer membranes are produced by an expensive process difficult to control. This makes it difficult to modify the membrane’s parameters for specific applications. In addition, the membranes tend to clog easily making downtime frequent and maintenance expensive. Europe imports most of its membranes for standard applications and manufacturing licensing is not available for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). European researchers decided to overcome all these obstacles with the ‘Develop methods of manufacturing customized flexible membranes using laser technology’ (LASER-MEM) project. Scientists developed a laser drilling system combined with scanning and focusing capabilities to open accurate and predictable conical holes in oriented polymers. Preliminary results on filtration and aeration membranes were quite promising. Continued research directed at optimisation of membrane characteristics for specific applications as well as reduction of manufacturing time and operating cost should significantly enhance commercial exploitation.

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