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Technology innovation: Cross-linked nanofiltration membranes (Patent offer)
cMACS - KU Leuven
Membrane separation processes are widely applied in the filtration of aqueous fluids (e.g. desalination and waste water treatment). However, they have hardly been applied in separations under more extreme conditions, e.g. in solvents (solvent resistant nanofiltration, SRNF) or at extreme pH, despite the many potential applications in industry. This is mainly due to the relatively poor performance and/or stability of the membranes in these conditions. Currently, halopolymers such as e.g. poly(tetrafluoroethylene), are amongst the most commonly used hydrophobic membrane materials. While many of these polymers have successfully been processed into microporous membranes, the search continues for membrane materials with tighter MWCO and sufficient chemical stability.
The present invention discloses the use of cross-linked halopolymer-based membranes which can be used in nanofiltration (MWCO between 200 and 1000 Da) at extreme pH (even above and below the common 0-14 pH-scale), elevated operating temperatures (till 150°C) and/or in liquids comprising harsh solvents. Apart from filtration itself in these conditions, such condition can be equally applied to clean or sterilise the membrane. The membranes can be used in industrial applications wherein small compounds are to be separated from strongly alkaline or acidic solutions or from solvents. Possible applications include waste water treatment in mining industry, resistance to harsh cleaning procedures (e.g. in dairy industry), recovery of APIs, mixed streams with an extreme pH but also containing solvents (from e.g. pharmaceutical industry), etc. .
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