Smart Filter project develops new filter membrane coating technology

The UK Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has developed a low-cost, self-cleaning coating technology for industrial filter membranes in collaboration with G2O Water Technologies, Haydale and Sellafield.

During the Smart Filter project, the team created a coated filter membrane for industrial waste water treatment using graphene and its derivatives, which offers increased resistance to fouling.

Even though membrane filters are used in several industrial separation applications, they are affected by fouling, which lowers throughput or increases energy consumption and reduces filter life.

The team, focusing on oil water separation and nuclear waste water treatment, developed a repeatable, reproducible and scalable process to produce coated filter membranes, which resulted in a 30 per cent improvement in permeability when compared to an equivalent uncoated filter.

CPI director of formulation Graeme Cruickshank said: “We are again delighted to support the development of such important technology-based improvements, with the potential in addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

The coating technology principle has been demonstrated at lab scale and the project, funded by Innovate UK, enabled better understanding of the underpinning science, allowing the manufacturing methods to be improved for industrial processes.

G2O Water Technologies COO Craig Clement said: “This project has been highly successful in improving and validating our graphene coating technology ahead of full commercialisation.

“The demand for clean water is enormous and we are now well placed to develop products to meet the market’s needs.”

The lab-scale technology was transferred from the US to the UK and CPI achieved a scalable coating process using ink jet printing.

The project also facilitated progress in developing process technology for the safe and stable functionalisation of graphene species.

Haydale head of lab and development section Michael King said: “Being involved in the Smart Filter project has given Haydale the opportunity to explore new applications for functionalised graphene, along with the support to develop the current plasma technology, which has enabled us to achieve a level of functionalisation that now provides a competitive and cost-effective product to graphene oxide.”