SafBon to supercharge production of ItN membranes

SafBon is dramatically stepping up production of ItN Nanovation ceramic flatsheet membranes to fulfil new orders.

The Shanghai-based water company acquired 68 per cent of Germany’s ItN last year after the ceramic membrane specialist ran into financial difficulty.

SafBon will now invest E 60 million ($ 63 million) into a new membrane manufacturing plant in Nantong, near Shanghai, to help fulfil orders for a new desalination plant in Ying Kou, northern China, as well as a resumed project in Al Tabouk, Saudi Arabia.

The first phase of production at the new manufacturing facility will begin in August 2017 producing 60,000 m2 a year of ceramic flatsheet membranes; and phase two, with production capacity of 140,000 m2 a year, will begin in 2018.

“The new production plant will be built in close co-operation between SafBon and ItN engineers, using the latest know-how in technical ceramics. Based on the capacity of phase two, ItN membranes will have the potential to achieve annual turnover of more than E 30 million,” said SafBon. All membranes will be produced in accordance with German quality standards.

SafBon and ItN are together building a 400,000 m3/d seawater desalination plant in Ying Kou city in northern China. The plant will utilise a new pre-filtration process from ItN, ahead of a reverse osmosis process based on ceramic flatsheet membranes. The plant will utilise a total of 100,000 m2 of ceramic flatsheet membranes in an order worth $20 million to ItN over the next four years.

Membranes for phase one, comprising about 25 per cent of the project, will be delivered in 2018, and operations are due to begin in 2019. The project has four phases.

Further, in January 2017, ItN received a revised order from Saudi Arabia for the Al Tabouk project, which had originally been placed in 2014 but was then delayed.

“Due to the temporary insolvency in self-administration, the Saudi Arabian client had started to plan the Al Tabouk project with a competitor of ItN but did not cancel the contract with ItN. Since the competitor could not technically qualify, the customer resumed to ItN after the insolvency application was withdrawn. After a lengthy technical and commercial negotiation and approval of the state budget of this project in northern Saudi Arabia, the customer has sent an updated order with a total price of $4.8 million,” ItN Said.

The original order was worth $6.6 million. “The $1.8 million discount is pro rata of $1.1 million from the change in the exchange rate, and $700,000 from rebates due to the change in the competitive situation,” it said.