Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Melbourne engineering researchers develop micro-filters for clean water

Researchers from the Melbourne School of Engineering in conjunction with CSIRO, have developed new membranes or micro-filters that will result in clean water in a much more energy efficient manner.

Published recently in the journal Advanced Materials, the new membranes will supply clean water for use in desalination and water purification applications.

University of Melbourne Engineering School
Study engineering at the University of Melbourne

Sandra Kentish, Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering said that up until now, there has not been a way to add chlorinating agents to water to prevent biological growth in the desalination process.

“Such biofouling has been a major issue to date, but the new membranes have the potential to lead to a more economic desalination operation,” she said.

For the Melbourne School of Engineering professor, the availability of fresh water for drinking, irrigation and industrial use is one of the grand challenges of this century. Energy efficient water purification has the potential to improve the lives of billions of people around the world.

“The new membranes perform at a comparable level to existing commercial membranes used in these applications, but importantly show greater resistance to attack by chlorine containing chemicals,” Professor Kentish said.

“The chlorine resistant membrane materials can cut out additional processing steps reducing operating costs. They can also prevent the decrease in water flow that is currently observed with time due to biological fouling” she said.

The novel membrane technology uses layer-by-layer polymer assembly and has been developed by a collaborative research team including Professor Kentish with Professor Frank Caruso and Dr Jacky Cho from the Melbourne School of Engineering and Dr Anita Hill from CSIRO. The work was made possible through funding from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).

Melbourne School of Engineering

The Melbourne School of Engineering offers an internationally recognised curriculum with dual accreditation that is unique in Australia. The Master of Engineering suite of programs are the only engineering courses to be accredited by Engineers Australia, as well having received EUR-ACE® label European accreditation, allowing graduates to register and work as professional chartered engineers in many countries around the world.

Melbourne’s graduate model of engineering education provides depth, breadth and flexibility to a world-class curriculum that is informed by real world, problem-based learning, industry experience and a generous program of scholarships for both local and international students.

The school conducts cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and works with a range of partners from academia, government and industry to address some of society’s critical problems, such as water resource management, infrastructure protection, sustainable energy and targeted drug delivery for cancer treatment, to name a few. Other key projects include the bionic eye, the sustainable city, artificial skin, and the green internet.


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