April 28th 2021
Two speakers enlighted us about their project. First speaker was Kwinten Van Eyck of Inopsys with the SuMEMS project. In this project, Inopsys and several partners worked together on the development of innovative membrane-based solutions. Aming at the treatment of the typical solvent-rich, and often very alkaline process waters, in a sustainable and economical way, that are currently incinerated externally. The results of the project show that optimal (hybrid) processing allows to recuperate valuable components as precious metals or metal catalysts, and to send the purified waste streams to the existing on-site wastewater treatment plants. The robustness of some of the developed processes was proven up to pilot scale.
Partners: Inopsys, pharma companies Janssen and Ajinomoto Bio-pharma, the industrial partners, KULeuven and VITO
This project is confidential and can not be consulted in the youtube link below. If you like to receive a revised version of the pdf contact Kwinten Van Eyck.
Our second speaker was Arnout D’Haese of the UGent University department PaInT. He spoke about defects in RO and FO membranes. Reverse Osmosis, Forward Osmosis and Nanofiltration (RO, FO & NF) all rely on dense membranes, that is, membranes without discernible pores in their active layer. These membranes permit water and some solutes to pass by dissolving into the non-porous active layer polymer, and by diffusion across it. Of course, in membranes of considerable size, it is highly likely that there would be defects in the active layer. These defects permit water and solutes to bypass the active layer, which reduces the selectivity of the affected membrane. In most cases, this is not an issue if those defects are rare: membranes can tolerate some defects without significant increases in salt passage. Such cases include seawater desalination, softening of drinking water with NF, water recovery from food-grade feed streams (e.g. whey). However, in other cases, membrane integrity is critical: if water is recovered from hazardous waste streams, bypassing the membranes selectivity through defects can pose significant risks, even if defects are scarce. In this project, UGent studies defects by intentionally and reproducibly damaging membranes, and developing sensitive and easy-to-implement detection protocols. Defects are created using laser ablation, while detection protocols include fluorescence, flow cytometry and genetic techniques.