LANXESS doubles its membrane production capacity

LANXESS, a specialty chemicals company, has doubled its membrane production capacity, as announced earlier this year.

The company has been continuously expanding its line of membrane elements since production began in September 2011, and the products were introduced to the market in early 2012. Presently, numerous types of Lewabrane elements are available in different sizes, which can be optimized for high fouling resistance, high energy efficiency or high performance.

“We have expanded the capacity of our plant in Bitterfeld so that we can continue meeting the rising demand for reverse osmosis membrane elements,” Jean-Marc Vesselle, head of the Liquid Purification Technologies business unit at LANXESS, said. “This step makes us even more attractive as a supplier to major customers.”

Presently, as the market for reverse osmosis membrane elements is projected to continue growing at an above-average annual rate of ten percent in the years ahead, and the plant was already operating almost at the limit of its capacity, LANXESS decided to double it. 

The new Lewabrane RO ULP line is the latest addition. These “Ultra Low Pressure” elements display higher water permeability than the standard elements, while offering the same high level of rejection of critical substances. The operating pressure required in the pressure vessel is 40 per cent lower, which also reduces operating costs. Furthermore, the new membranes are a good option for removing micropollutants from wastewater and drinking water. 

Production of membrane elements for the Lewabrane line is a multi-stage process, beginning with the fabrication of a thin-film composite membrane comprising several individual layers. A polysulfone base layer and an active filter layer are applied on a nonwoven base substrate. The filter layer is made of polyamide and applied in a complex coating process. Produced as flat components, the reverse osmosis membranes are then wound by fully automated autowinders into spiral-shaped elements. This design helps to conduct untreated water towards the membrane surface and to collect the permeate.

In addition to the membrane elements plant, LANXESS also operates the world’s largest plant for monodisperse ion exchange resins in Bitterfeld.