Added Value and Synergies
The SuperClean technology will produce superhydrophilic, superhydrophobic, or biphilic membranes.
It opens a whole range of potential applications in industry.
Superhydrophobic membranes are not only used for MD of wastes. They will be readily available for MD of sea water to produce drinking water. It is expected that the efficiency of the process will be highly improved by the use of the superhydrophobic membranes, and if combined with solar heating, it may result to affordable drinking water production cost, with zero liquid waste.
Moreover, oil water separation, sea-water cleaning for oil spills, production of pharmaceuticals, all need membrane separation processes. Furthermore, filtration, microfiltration, reverse osmosis, CO2 capturing and any other membrane technology may benefit from the surface modification technology proposed in the SuperClean project.
Finally, superhydrophobic, superhydrophilic or biphilic membranes are excellent candidates for atmospheric water collection from fog and dew. Beyond membranes, the technology is easily applicable to polymer sheets that must be hydrophobized for reduced adhesion, or better barrier properties for packaging. Thus, providing a technology for roll-to-roll fabrication of superhydrophobic surfaces has a potential far larger than membrane separation.
Competitive advantage of the innovation
A vast application range is envisioned from the SuperClean project, since any membrane can be converted to superhydrophilic, superhydrophobic or biphilic with the proposed equipment and technology.
Focusing on superhydrophobicity, SuperClean will increase the wetting resistance as well as the scaling and fouling resistance of a membrane by rendering it superhydrophobic. Furthermore, it will reduce the pressure drop of water flowing through the membrane. SuperClean will increase the clean water flux, by increasing the pore size of initially small pores (e.g., 0.1 μm) membranes (NCSRD) or reducing the pore size of microporous membranes (MPIP), while at the same time increasing liquid entry pressure of the membrane.
All the above lead to high contaminant or salt rejection rate and to a higher energy efficiency of the membrane.
The SuperClean project technology is green, does not use any toxic material and with the use of plasma technology the amount of produced waste is significantly reduced. The nano texturing step and the functionalization step are dry, i.e., plasma technology is used.
The hydrophilization step can be done either dry (plasma deposition) or wet (nanofilament deposition). We also use no heat, but only radio frequency electrical energy during the processing of the membrane.
The plasma is “cold” meaning that the temperature sensitive membranes are not damaged.
Thus, the use of the new and unique plasma technology, will have an economic and social impact on the clean water production processes by increasing the energy efficiency of the production process, reduce the use of chemicals and increase the added value of their products.
Such products cannot be obtained with available technologies, including standard plasma technology.