Shedding new possibilities into membrane filtration

To revolutionise membrane filtration, Aqua Membranes developed a 3D Printed Spacer Technology that reduces capital and operational costs by improving the efficiency of spiral-wound membranes and minimising fouling potential. CJ Kurth, CTO of Aqua Membranes, elaborates to Water & Wastewater Asia how the technology can optimise flow patterns and turbulence through the membrane element, leading to better cleaning and longer element life.

Founded in 2011, Aqua Membranes provides its 3D Printed Spacer Technology for spiral-wound membrane manufacturers who are looking to improve their product performance.

Being in the water industry for more than two decades, what are some of the key takeaways you have brought along to Aqua Membranes, and how will they help shape the strategies you have set out for the company?
CJ Kurth:
Each customer’s site is unique with its water chemistry, seasonality and financial drivers. They are part of a geography that faces collective water stresses, waste challenges and governmental requirements. Yet they all follow the same laws of nature. Solutions work best when the time is spent to understand this web of needs and priorities, and a solution is delivered to fit that specific context. As an abstract concept that easy, it takes time, effort and mental horsepower to put that into practice. That respect of each customer’s requirements and the situation is common for large plants, particularly municipal desalination, but much more challenging with the vast number of smaller sites around the globe. Companies that thrive have found a way to operationalise the process of understanding and solving for a web of needs efficiently.

Likewise with start-ups, it is important to take a tailored approach; what is different in the technology, what are the expectations of the investors, who are onboard and what are their strengths. It can be tempting to apply a template from other businesses, past experiences or a case study but in my mind what’s important is to sit with the specific situation and develop a plan for that case.

How will you describe the role membrane technology play within today’s water sector, and what opportunities does membrane filtration offer in the areas of water sustainability?
The biggest overarching trend of membrane’s role in water has been the continuous progression of them becoming the defacto standard unit of operation for increasing the number of separations. Whether flatsheet or hollow fibre, membranes are an incredibly efficient way of processing a large amount of water through a small device with an advanced material structure.

With the pace of development in universities and industrial labs combined with interest from venture capital investors, new membrane materials with improved separations capabilities and stability will continue the expansion of the separations with membranes as the key technology enabler.

The full article is available on the latest edition of Water & Wastewater Asia Mar/Apr 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.