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Implementation of Membrane Technology to Industry

Periodic Report Summary - IMETI (Implementation of membrane technology to industry)

IMETI project commitment

The IMETI project aims to create a programme of applied research to implement membrane technology within industry, based on experience and knowledge transfer between academia and industry at seven partner sites. Research work between membrane technology companies (3), universities (2) and research institutes (2) is closely integrated. The project works with new membranes, developed in academic and research institute laboratories, fabrication of membrane modules in different configurations and designs by the companies, and then use of these in the application areas. This project is focused on implementation of membrane technology in two specific areas of application:
- i) Organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN), and
ii) High temperature gas separation/purification.

Results

Several research strategies for controlling MWCO of membranes have been identified and investigated. Successful membrane MWCO control has been achieved by varying the solvent to co-solvent ratio in the polymeric dope solution. A series of highly solvent stable membranes with different MWCO in the nanofiltration range have been developed optimised and successfully scaled up. 1.8" x 12" modules, with an active membrane area of around 0.36 m2 are successfully produced and tested for different applications. Care is taken that the membrane and module quality control meets the increasingly rigorous demands of pharmaceutical and cosmetic regulators. Possibilities for developing highly solvent resistant membranes produces from other polymers such as PAN (polyacrylonitrile), PANI (polyaniline) and the eco-friendly polymer poly-lactic acid (PLA) have been also investigated.

MFI zeolite membranes were successfully prepared by a seeding and secondary growth procedure using either conventional or microwave assisted heating methods. Up-scaling procedure of the MFI zeolite membrane preparation to multicapillary modules with 20 cm long capillaries is under development. MFI membranes with Al (ZSM-5) or Nb (NbS-1 ) in the zeolite framework as potentially attractive candidates for high temperature gas separation and mesopourous titania and zirconia membranes highly attractive for applications in aggressive conditions were also investigated.

A procedure for extraction and membrane concentration of valuable antioxidants from plants and propolis has been developed. Concentrates with a very high antioxidant activities have been obtained, at such content that the powder obtained after retentates vacuum drying may be directly used in the production of some medicines, nutritional additives and preservatives offered by pharmaceutical companies. A new technology for peptide/oligonucleotide synthesis using nanofiltration membranes was developed producing peptides of excellent purity and yield at lower reagents concentration than in the conventional peptide synthesis. Thus, we conjecture that this process offers an important alternative technology platform for peptide production at industrial scale.

Impact

The IMETI network will lead to advanced membrane based innovations within the fine chemical, pharmaceutical, gas separation and agrofood industries in the European Community. It provides an important basis for further improvement regarding environment, safety and health through improved technology. By optimising the operation of complex production processes, energy consumption and emissions in normal operations can be reduced to a minimum.

IMETI is also expected to significantly aid in establishing long-term collaborations between the network teams in terms of research, training and transfer of knowledge and foster introduction of new teaching disciplines in the new member state university. IMETI contributes directly towards the bringing together of universities and industries across Europe and making an important step in the transition of European industry towards more knowledge based and less resource intensive operations.