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Recycling of end-of-life reverse osmosis membrane modules into recycled ultra-and nanofiltration membranes for tertiary treatment

Country of origin:
Country: 
SPAIN
Opportunity:
External Id: 
TOES20201124001
Published
24/11/2020
Last update
07/12/2021
Expiration date
31/05/2022

Keywords

Partner keyword: 
Process Plant Engineering
Industrial Water Treatment
Municipal Water Treatment
Water Resources Management
Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems
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Summary

Summary: 
A Spanish research institute, located in Madrid, working on integrated water management has developed a technology for reverse osmosis membrane modules recycling. End-of-Life (EoL) membranes from water treatment facilities and industrial applications can be transformed into nanofiltrafion or Ultrafiltration membranes to be reused as tertiary treatment. Looking for commercial agreement with technical assistance and research and technical cooperation agreements.

Description

Description: 

Reverse osmosis (RO) is the most employed technology for water desalination. Energy consumption and membrane fouling represent some of the major concerns in membrane technology because they increase the costs associated with treated water. Membrane lifespan is mainly correlated to the quality of the water and the operation condition and it is estimated that often membrane lifespan is 5 to 10 years. It has been calculated that 81,425 EoL membranes are disposed annually in Spain (1000 Tn). Considering that the 65% of the total worldwide desalination installed capacity (86.8 million m3 per day) uses RO membrane technology and that the average replacement rate is 15%, it can be extrapolated that 840,000 EoL membranes (14,000 Tn/year) are discarded every year worldwide.
The constant disposal of EoL membranes in landfills and the con-sequent environmental impact has raised interest on looking for other alternative management routes. Among the different management alternatives (landfill, incineration, gasification, energy recovery, direct reuse and recycling), direct reuse and recycling is the most environ-mentally favourable option, whilst the current landfill disposal is the least favourable one.
The technology for RO membrane modules recycling developed by the Spanish research institute can be applied to any EoL RO membranes installed in water treatment facilities such as desalination plants, wastewater treatment plants and industrial applications such as beverage concentration. Depending on the needs, EoL RO membranes can be transformed into NF or UF membranes to be reused for tertiary treatment.
The service offers the possibility of conducting a full recyclability study that includes:
• EoL membrane characterization by membrane autopsies, where the membrane module is opened to extract membrane coupons and fouling to diagnose the reason for its poor performance.
• Study of EoL membrane process performance in terms of permeate flux and membrane rejection capacity.
• Recycling process through the exposition of the EoL membranes to an oxidant compound at different exposure doses.
• Surface characterization by several techniques such as SEM, AFM, ATR-FTIR and process performance study of recycled membranes.
• Viability studies of recycled membranes for tertiary treatment at laboratory and pilot scale.
The research center is looking for commercial agreements for the design, implementation and/or monitoring of membrane recycling:
· Councils, community of municipalities, provincial councils, rural development associations;
· Water Companies and Wastewater Treatment Plants in small municipalities;
· Any company (textile, agri-food, etc) interested in treating their wastewater;
· Any company interested in developing wastewater treatment projects in developing countries;
And research and technical cooperation agreements to also improve both implementation and monitoring:
· Associations or waste management industries;
· Water resource managers;
· Commercial membrane manufacturers and providers
· Any company expert in ICTs.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
EoL membrane recycling show both environmental and economic advantages in terms of: • EoL RO membrane recycling shows lower environmental impact than producing a new membrane module. • Carbon footprint and fossil fuel consumption during the production of recycled ultrafiltration/nanofiltration membranes is 40-60 times smaller than in the production of new commercial membranes. • Water consumption during the recycling process is 20 times smaller than the water consumed during the preparation of a new commercial membrane • The price of recycled membranes is 10 times lower than the commercial new membranes, which is an outstanding economic advantage. • With only 1-2 year life span of recycled membranes, membrane recycling process is environmentally and economically beneficial.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Available for demonstration

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
The research center is looking for commercial agreements for the design, implementation and/or monitoring of membrane recycling: · Councils, community of municipalities, provincial councils, rural development associations; · Water Companies and Wastewater Treatment Plants in small municipalities; · Any company (textile, agri-food, etc) interested in treating their wastewater; · Any company interested in developing wastewater treatment projects in developing countries; And research and technical cooperation agreements to also improve both implementation and monitoring: · Associations or waste management industries; · Water resource managers; · Commercial membrane manufacturers and providers · Any company expert in ICTs.

opened_spiral_wound_membrane_during_membrane_autopsy_process.jpg

Opened spiral-wound membrane during membrane autopsy process

concept_of_the_recycling_process.jpg

Concept of the recycling process