New Developments


Contemporary research in the area of Nanofiltration (NF) technology is primarily concerned with improving the performance of NF membranes, minimising membrane fouling and reducing energy requirements of already existing processes. One way in which researchers are attempting to improve NF performance – more specifically increase permeate flux and lower membrane resistance – is through experimentation with different membrane materials and configurations. thin film composite membranes (TFC), which consist of a number of extremely thin selective layers interfacially polymerized over a microporous substrate, have had the most commercial success in industrial membrane applications due to the capability of optimizing the selectivity and permeability of each individual layer. [15] Recent research has shown that the addition of nanotechnology materials such as electrospunnanofibrous membrane layers (ENMs) to conventional TFC membranes results in an enhanced permeate flux. This has been attributed to inherent properties of ENMs that favour flux, namely their interconnected pore structure, high porosity and low transmembrane pressure. [16] A recently developed membrane configuration which offers a more energy efficient alternative to the commonly used spiral wound arrangement is the hollow fibre membrane. This format has the advantage of requiring significantly less pre-treatment than spiral wound membranes, as solids introduced in the feed are displaced effectively during backwash or flushing. [17] As a result, membrane fouling and pre-treatment energy costs are reduced. Extensive research has also been conducted on the potential use of Titanium Dioxide (TiO2, titania) nanoparticles for membrane fouling reduction. This method involves applying a nonporous coating of titania onto the membrane surface. Internal fouling/pore blockage of the membrane is resisted due to the nonporosity of the coating, whilst the superhydrophilic nature of titania provides resistance to surface fouling by reducing adhesion of emulsified oil on the membrane surface. [18]

Source: Nanofiltration New Developments