Hayward, CA, United States
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An example separation system includes a stack of membrane plate assemblies. An example membrane plate assembly may include membranes bonded to opposite sides of a spacer plate. The spacer plate may include a first opening in fluid communication with a region between the membranes, and a second opening in fluid communication with a region between membrane plate assemblies. Adjacent membrane plate assemblies in the stack may have alternating orientations such that bonding areas for adjacent membranes in the stack may be staggered. Accordingly, two isolated flows may be provided which may be orthogonal from one another.


An example water purification system includes a forward osmosis module, a reverse osmosis module, a pump powered by an electric motor, and a pressure sensor. The forward osmosis module may receive a feed stream and a draw stream, and may produce an intermediate product stream. The intermediate product stream may be pressurized by a pump and provided to the reverse osmosis module. The reverse osmosis module may generate a product stream and return the draw stream to the forward osmosis module. The pressure sensor may monitor the pressure of the intermediate product stream, and the pressure may be used to determine the speed of the electric motor.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 149.88K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is focused on the development of carbon nanotube ultrafiltration (CNT-UF) membranes with high flux and uniform pore size. Carbon nanotubes are known to enhance flux in membranes for water and gas applications. Initial studies have shown that we can produce membranes with higher flux and better selectivity than commercial UF membranes. It is anticipated that the CNT-UF membranes developed in this project will have significantly higher flux than current commercial membranes, achieve good natural organic matter rejection, and have excellent chemical resistance. This project enables fabrication and optimization of high performance CNT-UF membranes.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is that carbon nanotube ultrafiltration membranes with higher flux and improved rejection will result in energy and cost savings in a broad set of applications. Applications include but are not limited to treatment of surface water for potable water production, pretreatment for seawater desalination using reverse osmosis, municipal and industrial wastewater reclamation and a variety of other industrial processes. More efficient desalination, water reclamation, and reuse will reduce water scarcity. Improved ultrafiltration technology will reduce strain on water resources and aid in securing a supply of fresh drinking water worldwide.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.66K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will demonstrate the economic viability of a system designed for carbon capture and water treatment at power plants. The project will measure the performance of a novel forward osmosis (FO) membrane in combination with a carbon-dioxide based switchable draw. Forward osmosis technology excels in processing difficult-to- treat waters, such as blow down waters created by power plants. Poriferas novel FO membrane has higher flux and reduced reverse salt flux compared to conventional membranes. It is more chemically stable, enabling the development of a system that uses a draw solute which can capture carbon dioxide from flue gas. The draw solute can obtain high osmotic pressure and is recyclable for reuse within the system. Compared to other state of the art technologies, the system will have higher water recovery and treat more problematic water, all while using less energy. Energy production requires significant quantities of fresh water for cooling, emitting greenhouse gases, and generating wastewater. This proposal will enable the development of a system that will synergistically capture carbon and treat wastewater at power plants. The system will have higher water recovery and treat more problematic water using less energy compared to state of the art technologies. The system will capture carbon dioxide to treat wastewater at power plants that currently require extremely expensive and energy intensive methods. The system will reduce the volume of waste water, reduce the energy costs to treat wastewater, expand the capabilities of water treatment, and reduce the cost of carbon capture from flue gas.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.29K | Year: 2014

This proposal will enable the development of a system that will synergistically capture carbon and treat wastewater at power plants. The system will have higher water recovery and treat more problematic water using less energy compared to state of the art technologies.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 1.12M | Year: 2011

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will take advantage of the unique properties of carbon-nanotube (CNT) pores to develop membranes that are specifically tailored for forward osmosis (FO) applications. FO processes have a number of advantages over evaporation and pressure-driven membrane processes: low energy cost, low mechanical stresses, and high product concentration. The main problem impeding the widespread use of FO remains the lack of robust optimized FO membranes. CNT membranes are ideal for FO applications as they offer improvements in all relevant membrane characteristics: (1) improved structural integrity; (2) high permeability; (3) robust chemical stability; and (4) low fouling propensity. Most importantly, CNT membranes can be fabricated with sufficient structural support in the active layer to operate with only minimal external reinforcement, which minimizes concentration polarization losses. This project builds on the fabrication and functionalization approaches developed in Phase I, and applies them on a larger scale to achieve the objective of developing membranes with fast flow and high selectivity at reasonable production costs. Performance of the membranes will be benchmarked using laboratory tests that simulate real-world applications. This project will deliver an innovative FO membrane platform that exhibits superior performance and stability in FO applications.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be to enable a variety of green technologies such as renewable power generation, wastewater reuse, and energy-efficient desalination. Although FO-based processes are extremely energy efficient, their commercial use has been hampered by the lack of high performance FO membranes. This project should produce two main outcomes. First, it would deliver a solid technical foundation for developing a novel FO membrane platform that would provide a superior commercial alternative to existing FO membrane architectures. Second, the performance advantages of the CNT membranes would open up several applications for commercial development.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.88K | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is focused on the development of carbon nanotube ultrafiltration (CNT-UF) membranes with high flux and uniform pore size. Carbon nanotubes are known to enhance flux in membranes for water and gas applications. Initial studies have shown that we can produce membranes with higher flux and better selectivity than commercial UF membranes. It is anticipated that the CNT-UF membranes developed in this project will have significantly higher flux than current commercial membranes, achieve good natural organic matter rejection, and have excellent chemical resistance. This project enables fabrication and optimization of high performance CNT-UF membranes. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is that carbon nanotube ultrafiltration membranes with higher flux and improved rejection will result in energy and cost savings in a broad set of applications. Applications include but are not limited to treatment of surface water for potable water production, pretreatment for seawater desalination using reverse osmosis, municipal and industrial wastewater reclamation and a variety of other industrial processes. More efficient desalination, water reclamation, and reuse will reduce water scarcity. Improved ultrafiltration technology will reduce strain on water resources and aid in securing a supply of fresh drinking water worldwide.


Examples are described including membrane fabrication systems using roll-to-roll processing to fabricate a forward osmosis membrane. Fabric supported by a solid sheet may be cast with a polymer and a selectivity layer may be applied to form the forward osmosis membrane. The forward osmosis membrane supported by the solid sheet may be delaminated using an alcohol.


An example water purification system for purifying high concentration feed solutions includes a high rejection forward osmosis module, one or more low rejection modules, and a high rejection reverse osmosis module. The low rejection modules may have different rejection levels. The system may be pressurized by one or more pumps. One or more of the low rejection modules may include one or more nanofiltration (NF) membranes. The draw solution may comprise a monovalent salt, a multivalent salt, or a combination of both.


An example separation system includes a stack of membrane plate assemblies. An example membrane plate assembly may include membranes bonded to opposite sides of a spacer plate. The spacer plate may include a first opening in fluid communication with a region between the membranes, and a second opening in fluid communication with a region between membrane plate assemblies. Adjacent membrane plate assemblies in the stack may have alternating orientations such that bonding areas for adjacent membranes in the stack may be staggered. Accordingly, two isolated flows may be provided which may be orthogonal from one another.

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