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These robust organosilane-based membranes promise benefits

By Chemical Engineering |

A new desalination membrane has been developed by an industry-academia collaboration team, led by professor Toshinori Tsuru at Hiroshima University (Japan; http://home.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/membrane/en/index.html). The work is the culmination of a five-year project that began in 2011 with support from the Japan Science and Technology Agency. The research team fabricated organosilica membranes based on bis(triethoxysilyl)ethane (BTESE) for the separation layer. The stable organosilica structure enables the membrane to withstand exposure to high chloride concentrations of up to 35,000 parts per million (ppm) per hour — much higher than the 15,000-ppm limit of conventional membranes. The organosilica structure also withstands high concentrations (100–1,000 ppm) of NaClO, which is often used in reverse-osmosis (RO) plants to prevent fouling by biofilms; and can handle temperatures up to 90°C. In laboratory immersion tests, the BTESE-derived membranes showed a NaCl rejection of higher than 99%, which is comparable or better than that of commercialized seawater-desalination membranes, as well as nearly the same water permeability (1×10–13 m3/m2 s Pa at 25°C). In addition to RO applications, the membranes may also find use for dehydrating…
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