Oil-removal membrane-distillation process being developed

A patented membrane-distillation process is to be enhanced to allow treatment of oil-contaminated water using a Sing$ 400,000 (US$ 312,000) grant from the Environment & Water Industry Programme Office in Singapore.

The research involves collaboration between the process developer memsys clearwater Pte Ltd and Nanyang Technological University, both from Singapore.

If successful, the wider application of the desalination process could be used by companies in Singapore to produce distilled water for industrial processes. For example, the refineries and petrochemical industries located at Jurong Island, which produce a lot of waste heat and are located close to the sea, would be able to use the enhanced process to produce distilled water from seawater.

Under the collaboration, the memsys-NTU research team will evaluate commercially available membranes to find those most effective in treating water contaminated with oil. The project will help to enhance memsys’ patented thermal Vacuum Multi-Effect Membrane Distillation process, which is primarily used for seawater desalination.

With their test results, the research team will modify or propose new membranes that can be used in treating wastewater, similar to those found in the oil and gas industry at Jurong Island. The project will end in August 2011.

“The new membrane will help to broaden the applications of the memsys process and develop a more robust desalination process,” said Godart van Gendt, managing director of memsys.