Superfund Research Program
Enhancing Non Fouling Membranes for Water Purification and Recycling
Project Leader: David M. Battaglia
Grant Number: R44ES024625
Funding Period: Phase II: June 2016 - February 2019
Many industrial processes produce difficult to treat wastewater containing environmental contaminans in the form of dissolved solids that must be purified before being discharged. Typically, wastewaters are generated from metal finishing and plating operations, rinsing of printed circuit boards and semiconductors during fabrication, water used for cleaning and painting in automotive manufacturing, food and beverage (concentration of wastewater for reuse and reduction of BODs prior to discharge), pharmaceutical manufacturing, as well as landfill leachate. In many cases, wastewaters cannot be treated cost effectively. As a result, massive quantities of unpurified wastewater is land-applied for disposal, disposed of underground, or discharged into our surface water supply leading to a significant impact on the environment. It has been observed that all conventional membrane processes currently used for wastewater purification are hampered by some form of membrane fouling. When treating wastewater using an osmosis membrane process, pretreatment of the wastewater is typically necessary to protect the membrane from organic fouling, mineral scaling, and chemical degradation. During the Phase I effort, the researchers developed an advanced osmosis membrane technology with greatly improved anti-fouling characteristics by successfully modifying commercially available osmosis membranes with graphene oxide and superhydrophilic nanoparticle coatings. These modified membranes showed excellent antifouling characteristics and improved durability under challenge tests using high concentrations of organic and inorganic foulants. Furthermore, the modification process is universally transferable to all commercially available membrane technologies used for wastewater purification. During the Phase II effort, Lynntech is working to further advance this novel technology by optimizing the membrane coating technology leading towards commercial scale up, and by performing outside testing at a commercial facility. This work includes (1) further optimization and improvement of the modification processes, (2) scale up the modification processes geared towards viable commercialization, and (3) packaging and testing the final product in a commercial setting. Successful completion of the specific aims will facilitate the pathway to commercialization of the novel technology with applications beyond the wastewater treatment, e.g., desalination, food processing, and pharmaceuticals. Implementation of these enhanced antifouling membranes will greatly reduce the membrane fouling within a wastewater purification system, reducing the necessary maintenance while maintaining or improving high purification standards.