Researchers from our University have been awarded a £1m Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant to research and develop the next generation of long lasting ‘immortal membranes’ that will be able to separate water from problematic particles such as pharmaceuticals or pollutants.
This funding will enable a collaborative project entitled ‘From membrane material synthesis to fabrication and function’ (SynFabFun), led by Newcastle University, to establish a UK virtual membrane centre that will act to unite the UK membrane research community.
The programme will look at improving membrane performance in four main industry sectors important to the UK and worldwide: Energy, Manufacturing, Pharma and Water. In all these industries, membranes have the potential to, and in some cases already do, provide a lower energy alternative to existing separation technology, requiring significantly smaller capital costs.
Membranes are not yet widely used for some applications due to their operating costs, requiring periodic cleaning and, eventually, replacement. This is caused by the loss of permeability and/or selectivity during service, and is due to both the membrane material changing and degrading (known as ‘ageing’) as well as a build-up of unwanted material on the surface of the membrane (known as ‘fouling’).