SideStroem Water Technologies and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) have embarked on a research collaboration to develop nanofiltration-type forward osmosis (NF-FO) membranes for resource recovery, an emerging technology that enables productivity gains in industrial wastewater treatment.
The technology presents several advantages that enable simultaneous recovery of both water and valuable solutes from wastewater streams as FO doesn’t require external pressure. SideStroem’s FO technology, which comprises novel NF-FO membranes, also enables significantly lower energy consumption than pressure-driven processes, and lower fouling tendencies that are suitable for pressure- or heat-sensitive solutions. Industrial end users will benefit from decreased operating expenses of optimized wastewater treatment processes. This will ensure compliance with discharge regulations by means of the technology’s superior resource recovery properties.
The research collaboration enables SideStroem to leverage SIT’s strengths in membrane development, optimisation and scaleup, and the university’s strong focus on applied and translational research. The SIT team works closely with industry partners to support the development of novel membrane technologies for liquid-liquid separation, wastewater treatment, desalination, and resource recovery.
Principal Investigator Associate Professor Zuo Jian from SIT’s Food, Chemical and Biotechnology cluster shares his perspective on the emerging technology:
NF-type FO technologies combine the advantages of nanofiltration and forward osmosis. NF-FO membranes have higher water permeability than conventional FO membranes and they can separate monovalent ions and small organic molecules from wastewater solution, which provides opportunities for resource recovery. The technology is ideally suited for applications in textile and tannery and fermentation industriesAssociate Professor Zuo Jian
The research collaboration has also provided SIT students with practical hands-on opportunities. First-year SIT-Newcastle University Chemical Engineering student Angelane Lim was involved in the first phase of the project, where she got to apply her knowledge and skills in engineering. The experience also gave her a chance to develop skills in innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving:
It’s exciting to see engineering come into play and be part of the innovation. The entire lab experience has honed crucial lab skills and encouraged me to constantly explore ideas, and analyse how we can get better results while conserving costs and energyAngelane Lim, Chemical Engineering student, SIT-Newcastle University
Both SideStroem and SIT are currently fine-tuning the development of membrane technology through further research.