Water. desalination + reuse

November/December 2012

Water. Desalination + reuse

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Aquaporin ��� getting ready for take-off _________ Mark Perry chief operating officer, Aquaporin A/S, Denmark ___ TECHNOLOGY TECHNOLOGY Aquaporin A/S has just launched investment in production capacity in preparation for commercial sales by the end of 2013. Editor���s Note: Development of water treatment and desalination membranes using aquaporins, trans-membrane water channel proteins, has been under way for several years without making a great impact. However, Danish cleantech company Aquaporin A/S has recently received its first grant of patent right from China, received an award from Frost & Sullivan for technology innovation and has just launched investment in production capacity in preparation for commercial sales by the end of 2013. This article looks at the company���s development and cooperative ventures, as well as applications for the technology. THE TRANSPORT of water across biological membranes in nature is a prerequisite for life, and this is now known to take place through specialized trans-membrane water channel proteins known as aquaporins. The water transport power of aquaporins has been optimized through billions of years of evolution to the point where a single aquaporin protein is capable of transporting roughly 1 billion water molecules per second with - for all practical purposes 100% selectivity to water. The idea behind the Aquaporin Inside��� Technology (AIT) is to incorporate aquaporins into Aquaporin Inside��� membranes resulting in higher membrane production per operational energy input and higher quality of the produced water. First-generation aquaPorin inside��� MeMbrane (aiM) The 1st generation AIT is a surface-modification technology where aquaporins formulated into a biomimetic matrix are doped onto the surface of a customized polyethersulfone (PES) flat-sheet membrane-support substrate. Through this process the PES substrate is enhanced with the water separation power of aquaporins as well as a significant enhancement of rejection properties stemming from the cell-like combination of aquaporins formulated into a proprietary biomimetic matrix. The result is AIMs with cutting-edge membrane performance properties in FO and RO water treatment applications. The development of the first-generation AIM has been a joint effort between Aquaporin A/S, Singapore���s Nanyang Technical University involving among others the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC) - and DHI Singapore. The Sing$ 3.5 million (US$ 2.9 million) project Aquaporin Based Biomimetic Membranes for Water Reuse & Desalination comes under the government Environment & Water Industry (EWI) Programme Office���s Incentive for Research & Innovation Scheme. ��� | 30 | Desalination & Water Reuse | November-December 2012 It is important to note that the immobilization matrix itself has been designed to install AIMs with rejection properties. The aquaporins ��� being organic molecules ��� will not continue to function indefinitely, however, owing to the rejection properties of the immobilization matrix, the AIMs will still retain a degree of functionality. Aquaporin A/S is often asked about the expected stability of aquaporins in industrial water treatment processes. Our research has shown that aquaporins are very resilient once they are incorporated into our biomimetic membrane formulations. As an example we have tested the aquaporin protein���s resistance to heating and found that it retains functionality even when the biomimetic matrix formulations are heated to 90��C. PEEr-rEviEwEd arTiCLEs The unique AIM properties have recently been described in a number of peerreviewed journals. The two international scientific journals Journal of Membrane Science and Desalination recognize the Aquaporin Inside��� technology in two peer-reviewed articles written by SMTC and Aquaporin A/S researchers. In a third article presented at The International Conference on Environmental Systems, researchers from NASA - Johnson Space Center, Huston, Texas, USA, demonstrate why the Aquaporin Inside ��� technology holds the potential of being used to produce ultrapure water for cooling of astronaut space suits. In their article, the NASA Johnson Space Center scientists conclude that with the termination of the space shuttle missions, the almost prohibitively high cost associated with supply of water to the ISS for space suit cooling alone, the aging ISS water supply system and the high sensitivity to impurities in spacesuit cooling water, makes it imperative to find a way of providing clean water at an affordable price. The scientists showed the potential of the Aquaporin Inside��� technology and concluded that, if further developed, this could become the cost-effective source of ultrapure water which is needed to ensure the USA���s ability to continue sending astronauts on space walks in the form of extra-vehicular activity. The article in Journal of Membrane Science describes how the proprietary membrane is constructed and demonstrates that when operating in reverse osmosis (RO), the salt rejection rate is ~97%. TECHNOLOGY This is comparable to or higher than other membranes tested in the same experimental set-up. Consequently, an even higher salt rejection rate is expected when these membranes are incorporated into industrial modules. The article furthermore describes how the Aquaporin Inside ��� membrane offers a 40% higher water flux than commercially available membranes for desalination of brackish water. The article in Desalination explains how the Aquaporin Inside��� technology differs from other biomimetic membrane designs all of which are still in the experimental stage and difficult to upscale. UPsCaLiNG aiM PrOdUCTiON AIMs are currently produced manually in sizes up to 400 cm2. In order to increase membrane area to the next WE UNDERSTAND DESALINATION & REUSE TECHNOLOGIES At Severn Trent Services we offer innovative treatment solutions to meet a variety of desalination and water reuse needs. - TETRA�� DeepBed��� tertiary filters are an economical solution for the removal of TSS <2 NTU or <5 mg/l TSS and < 0.2 mg/L phosphorus. TETRA Filters account for >10% of the world���s water reuse capacity. - TETRA�� LP Block��� lateral underdrains are ideal for pretreatment filtration at desalination plants. - UAT��� desalination systems are suitable for treating a wide range of salinity application up to 10+ MGD (1,500+ m3/hr). UAT EDI systems are offered to polish RO permeate. - MicroDynamics�� microwave UV disinfection systems offer efficient and effective disinfection of secondary and tertiary wastewater effluent. For more information on desalination and water reuse solutions e-mail info@severntrentservices.com or visit www.severntrentservices.com November-December 2012 | Desalination & Water Reuse | 31 | ���

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