Fouling-Resistant Nanoporous Membranes

Fouling-Resistant Nanoporous Membranes
Jeffrey Grossman, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Period of performance: 

September 2015 to August 2016
desalination, graphene membranes, materials, water treatment, saline,


The high cost and energy requirements of desalination limits its economic viability in many parts of the world and yet the cost of no water is even higher.  Together with conservation and wastewater treatment, desalination is crucial in augmenting water supply for agriculture, food processing, and manufacturing.  Many regions of the world already rely on this technology, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and California.  Existing technology relies on specially engineered membranes to remove salt from water, however the useful lifetime of these membranes is inherently limited due to the accumulation of organic foulants.  These foulants can substantially reduce water flow and hence plant efficiency, but, due to the chemistry of the membrane itself, cannot be removed with conventional chlorine-based methods.  We are developing scalable nanoporous membranes with optimized surface chemistry in order to increase resilience to both cleaning chemicals and biofoulants.  By leveraging the improved permeability of graphene-based membranes, this technology will lead to a product that addresses a serious challenge for plant operators and manufacturing facilities, namely the delicate nature of existing membranes.