In all living cells, channels transporting water - aquaporins - exist. They are proteins, which only transport pure H2O molecules. They have a unique selectivity and are extremely efficient being nature's own membrane systems. The purpose is to investigate whether these unique features can be industrially exploited: Recombinant aquaporin molecules will be embedded into water filtration membranes. Nano-biotechnological research of water transport in various organisms shows that aquaporins have 100% selectivity: Only water molecules pass. They also maintain high water permeation rates. Membrane technology is another rapidly developing technology within filtration and separation. Substantial research is done to enhance efficiency of membranes.
The MEMBAQ project combines these two research spearheads. This combination has never been done before. A new filtration membrane with aquaporins is in theory up to 50 times more efficient (energy input reduction). It is truly radical innovation of the water industries, for instance for water purification (billions of EUR is spent every year), salinity gradient energy production (exploitable potential is 2000TWh annually), waste water reclamation (water re-use).
The MEMBAQ project will:
1) produce recombinant aquaporin,
2) design nanotechnological membrane by means of computer simulation,
3) incorporate aquaporins into stable membranes,
4) engineer membranes based on characterising towards pressure, ph etc.,
5) and finally test such membranes in three applications: Water purification, osmotic energy, and waste water reclamation for re-use. US and Japan invest significantly more per capita than EU in nanotechnology.
This gap is expected to widen in the next few years. In MEMBAQ, we use real market needs in the water sector as a driver for accelerated research and innovation in nanotechnology. Enormous potentials in filtering other fluids and gasses with natural proteins embedded in membranes exist.
- FP6-NMP - Nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices: thematic priority 3 under the 'Focusing and integrating community research' of the 'Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area' specific programme 2002-2006.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project