Taiwan institute unveils low-pressure reverse osmosis membrane

Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has unveiled a reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology which, it has claimed, can reduce energy consumption by up to 80% "without compromising the level and quality of filtration."

ITRI has described the PolyE membrane - which is made by New Micropore - as "the first commercially viable nanofibrous, thin-film, composite membrane for RO water filtration."

It said the membrane combats the key challenges to energy efficiency in RO by deploying a special layer design that operates at lower hydraulic pressure than conventional methods. "Large water desalination facilities in particular can realize lower costs as a result of the lower energy consumption," said ITRI.

ITRI said the PolyE membrane integrates with existing RO systems and is inexpensive to mass produce and energy efficient, with the capability of lowering energy consumption by 30-80%.

"Minor engineering adjustments" to the technology enable it for use in brackish water desalination.

"PolyE is a high-performance, low-energy consumption membrane designed for desalination. In addition to low operating costs and low hydraulic pressure, the advantages include the ability to integrate with the current reverse osmosis technology," said senior researcher at ITRI, Shu-Hui Cheng. "PolyE membrane is the most cost-effective reverse osmosis technology available today and is particularly beneficial for utility scale applications," said Cheng.

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