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The UK representative of an international SME is seeking innovative membrane distillation materials and processes to incorporate into its products. Both research groups and companies are sought at different readiness levels, from proven concepts to supply modules or components for their systems. The cooperation may therefore range from manufacturing to licensing to technical cooperation agreements. The solution to this desalination problem may come from food, textiles, pharma industries.
The company is looking for organisations or research groups able to help scale up production of membrane distillation systems for deployment globally or for alternative thermally-driven water production technologies for further development. Many remote island communities or those in conflict areas do not have access to a consistent supply of fresh drinking water or a reliable energy source to allow water to be created where it is needed. There is therefore a need for technology to transform non-potable water (polluted, waste, grey, brackish or seawater) into safe drinking water. Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are currently used in large desalination infrastructure projects, but are unsuitable when access or power is restricted, or if supply is required in a short time-frame. Membrane distillation (MD) processes are increasingly being investigated as a potential alternative to RO for these scenarios. The process relies on the partial pressure difference (triggered by a temperature difference) between each side of the vapour-selective and hydrophobic membrane pores. These pores are larger than in RO systems, resulting in less pressure, and subsequently less energy required, which facilitates the use of resulting MD systems in remote, off-grid locations with renewable energy sources.
Membrane distillation is an ongoing area of development and the company is interested in identifying both suppliers and developers of materials, components and processes. The latter would aid the scaling up of manufacturing or reducing costs. The company would also discuss alternative thermally-driven water production technologies for further development. All technologies should fit the profile of remote installations, e.g. compact and modular units, high energy efficiency, use of renewable energy sources. Appropriate products or technologies could come from sectors requiring onsite water purification or liquid concentration – i.e. textiles, food, pharmaceuticals.
The company is engaged with different governments, NGOs and commercial companies, all of whom are looking for energy-efficient water supplies from seawater, or polluted or waste water. The company is carrying out ongoing development work and has the ability to incorporate innovative technologies into their commercial products. At the same time, they would be interested in additional suppliers. The type of cooperation will depend on the stage of development. It will range from manufacturing agreements (for available solutions) to technical co-operation and in-licensing. Priority will be given to solutions where demonstrators exist, or pilot production.
Supply or development of modular membrane distillation units (for varying output systems) utilising:
• Air Gap MD (AGMD)
• Permeate Gap MD (PGMD)
• Liquid Gap MD (LGMD)
• Suppliers of membranes interested in development of new MD units
• Technologies for the cost-effective production of MD units
Type of partner sought: industry and academia;
Specific activity of partner sought: development or (pilot) production of membranes for water concentration, desalination, detoxification.
Role of partner sought: dependent on the demonstrability and stage of development, the input from the partner may vary. It can range from inputting IP to a close technical co-operation to manufacturing at either partner.