WILTON, UK — The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has collaborated on a project to advance the development of a low-cost, self-cleaning coating technology for industrial filter membranes. 

The Smart Filter project used graphene and its derivatives to create a coated filter membrane that offers increased resistance to fouling for industrial wastewater treatment.

Membrane filters are used in a number of industrial separation applications but are afflicted by fouling, which typically lowers throughput or increases energy consumption, and reduces filter life.

Focusing on oil-water separation and nuclear waste water treatment, the collaboration, with G2O Water Technologies Ltd., Haydale Ltd. and Sellafield Ltd., developed a repeatable, reproducible and scalable process to make coated filter membranes, which delivered a 30% improvement in permeability when compared to an equivalent uncoated filter.

The principle of the coating technology, demonstrated at lab scale and the Innovate UK-funded project, enabled a significantly improved understanding of the underpinning science. This allowed the key manufacturing methods to be scaled to viable industrial processes.

During the project, CPI focused on understanding and developing the lab-scale technology that was transferred from the United States to the UK. CPI achieved a scalable coating process using ink jet printing and worked to understand process variables and their impact on product quality.

The project also allowed for significant progress in advancing process technology for the safe and stable functionalization of graphene species.

Graeme Cruickshank, Director of Formulation at CPI, 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.”

Craig Clement, Chief Operating Officer at G2O Water Technologies Ltd., said, “This project has been highly successful in improving and validating our graphene coating technology ahead of full commercialization.

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

Michael King, Lab and Development Section Head at Haydale Ltd., said, “Being involved in the Smart Filter project has given Haydale the opportunity to explore new applications for functionalized graphene, along with the support to develop the current plasma technology, which has enabled us to achieve a level of functionalization that now provides a competitive and cost-effective product to graphene oxide.”

CPI is a UK-based technology innovation center and part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. It uses applied knowledge in science and engineering combined with development facilities to enable clients to develop, prove, prototype and scale up the next generation of products and processes.