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3D printed membrane could improve water filtration rate by 10x
Posted by 3DP4E

By 3Ders

Nano Sun, a young start up company at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore has developed a first-of-its-kind multifunction water filtration membrane using 3D printing. According to NTU, the membrane lasts twice as long when compared to conventional membranes, is highly resistant to breakage, and has anti-bacterial and anti-biofouling properties. It also has a flow rate of at least ten times faster than current water filtration membranes.

This breakthrough multifunction membrane features a patented titanium dioxide nanotechnology which are proven to kill bacteria and to break down organic compounds in waste water with the help of sunlight or Ultra Violet (UV) rays.

Unlike traditional polymer-based water filtration membranes that tend to clog up with what they have filtered out, organic material and bacteria are killed and destroyed when they come into contact with the titanium dioxide membranes. In addition the membranes also have naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fouling properties.

Any organic material that does not decompose can also be quickly burnt by putting the membrane in an oven heated to 700 degrees Celsius, since it is able to withstand high heat.

"With more of the world's population moving into urban cities and generating more wastewater, there is a real need for cost-effective technology," said Associate Professor Darren Sun, from NTU's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Traditional polymer-based water filtration membranes are faced with issues such as fouling and high breakage, while the developing countries with high industrial output are generating wastewater which is increasingly harder to treat."

Nano Sun is co-founded by Adjunct Professor Wong Ann Chai from NTU's Nanyang Business School, and has received S$2 million funding from the Prime Minister's Office, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), NTU and private investors.

This two-year-old startup with an industry valuation of USD$80 million has recently signed deals with PT Pelaksana Jaya Mulia, a large Indonesian company, to provide 10,000 cubic metres of clean water per day. In China, Nano Sun is working with an industrial paper mill in Guangzhou to optimise their wastewater treatment processes, which will lead to savings of S$3 million over the next five years.

Nano Sun is also investing heavily to miniaturize the membranes into more handy products, which can be used for household needs as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The startup is now working to scale up its production of membranes from 7 metres per day to 100 metres per day. It also aims to explore other product possibilities such as air filtration, disinfection (bandages) and solar cell industries.

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