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Next-generation membrane technology might help lower industrial energy consumption

LONDON, April 17 — An academic partnership has been formed in Britain to investigate new materials that can be used to produce more efficient membrane, an important industrial filter, according to a press release published Thursday by the Imperial College London.

Over 15 percent of energy generated globally is used to separate substances from sewerage treatment to the production of pharmaceuticals and the refining of oil and gas. The membrane technology used to separate these substances is currently limited, often made from materials that are short lived, energy intensive.

Imperial College London and the universities of Bath, Manchester and Newcastle have created a new collaboration called SynFabFun. Their aim is to explore the potential of new materials to improve existing membrane systems currently used by industry.

According to the press release, Imperial College London will lead one of the projects, which will investigate the use of new types of polymers and ceramics for use in membrane technology.

Researchers said one of the challenges with conventional membranes is that they become less porous over time, slowing the flow of filtered liquid, leading to higher energy consumption in the filtration process and eventual replacement of the membrane.

The team will be experimenting with ceramics and polymers that are more porous at the nanoscale level, making them more able to filter substances over longer periods.

Professor Andrew Livingston and Professor Kang Li from Imperial College London will lead the research program.

Livingston said the underlying structures of these membranes have largely been unchanged for decades, leading to inefficiencies. "We believe that the membranes we are developing could lead to more stable performance in many industries, ultimately making them more sustainable." (PNA/Xinhua)

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