3D-Printed Patterned Membranes for Water Treatment

One of the recent technologies being developed in 3D-printing involves the use of 3D-printed patterned membranes to treat water and make it clean, safe for drinking.

a membrane filter used for water treatment (not the one specified in the article)

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Researchers at the University of Bath assessed 3D printers’ ability to work with membranes to evaluate the potential to 3D print membranes in the future, according to a study published online this week in the Journal of Membrane Science. [...]

“Although 3D printing technology is not quite well enough developed to yet produce large scale membranes that will be cost competitive with existing products, this work does signal what the future possibilities are with 3D printing,” said Darrell Patterson, director of the Centre for Advanced Separations Engineering at the University of Bath, in a release. – Read more at:

What are membranes and what’s their role in water treatment?

Membranes are a semi-permeable selective barrier that separate the molecules in a mixture within a gas or liquid into two streams, a key example of this being the separation of salt from water for desalination using reverse osmosis membranes. Up to 15% of energy used globally is from the separation and purification of industrial products such as gases, fine chemicals and fresh water. - Read more at:

3D-printing of membranes have also been developed in the recent past.

Nano Sun, a Singapore-based company, developed a technology of using 3d-printed membranes for water filtration in order to produce clean drinking water, in 2014.

Developed by NTU start-up Nano Sun, at the centre of the multifunction membrane is a patented titanium dioxide nanotechnology. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are proven to kill bacteria and to break down organic compounds in waste water with the help of sunlight or Ultra Violet rays. - Read more at:

Another related research was undertaken by the Penn State Materials Researcg Institute, in 2016, and as stated in the research paper’s summary, a new type of 3D printing will make it possible for the first time to rapidly prototype and test polymer membranes that are patterned for improved performance. According to the report by the Science Daily, Ion exchange membranes are used in many types of energy applications, such as fuel cells and certain batteries, as well as in water purification, desalination, removal of heavy metals and food processing.[...] “We thought if we could use 3D printing to fabricate our custom-synthesized ion exchange membranes, we could make any sort of pattern and we could make it quickly,” says Michael Hickner, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State. - Read more at:

This application of 3D-printing is one big benefit of the technology to humanity. Water is a precious commodity, and in many parts of the world, clean water for safe human consumption is a rare commodity. Thus, research and development in this area should continue, and the technology be made accessible and feasible to developing countries as well.

 

 

 

 

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