This project deals with a central problem of filtration systems and in particular of membranes: biofilms and bio-fouling. By its very nature, the surface of a filter is an open structure in which microorganisms can readily settle. Nutrients available in the in-feed enable these to grow. As a result biofilms develop leading to an overall reduction of filtration efficiency of 30-50%, unstable processes and frequent filter change. A multitude of strategies are tried to reduce membrane fouling which in itself demonstrates the urgency of the problem. Current strategies, often used in combination, are: enhanced modules and membranes, cross-flow filtration, low flux, regular back flush, permeate stoppage, scouring, sparging, rinsing cycles, chemical cleaning with soda, caustic or tenside solutions. ConductMem will develop an advanced system that can permanently prevent biofilm formation and surface fouling by the electrolytic production of biocidal oxidising agents on the membrane surface itself. The conductive membrane operates as an anode. The current flow will generate OH-radicals, Ozone and Hydrogen Peroxide on the membrane surface. These oxidizing agents degrade organic matter and disinfect the surface. The technology will be demonstrated by an automated non-fouling membrane filtration unit fitted into the partner’s membrane bioreactor design, incurring an additional cost of less than 15% compared with the state of the art - but with membranes that will last twice as long and not require chemical cleaning. It is expected that the MBR market will grow strongly as environmental directives, aimed at improving the quality of European water, are implemented. And domestic sewage will not be the only waste stream that can benefit from our apparatus. Other industries such as food production, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals will also be convinced by the financial and environmental benefits of treating their waste streams using ConductMem technology.
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs