Manufacturing stronger ceramic membranes

Leader

 

Challenge 

Ceramic membranes show greater chemical, thermal and structural stability when compared to polymer membranes and could be more effective for the pretreatment of seawater.  The commercially available ceramic hollow fibre membranes however have a too large a diameter and are brittle, limiting the operating pressure allowed and requiring careful handling. Improving the mechanical strength of ceramic hollow fiber membranes would make these membranes more applicable to the desalination industry.

Investigation

Develop porous ceramic hollow fibre membranes with improved toughness by incorporating ceramic nanofibre. Investigate how the porous structure affects the mechanical strength of ceramic hollow fibre membranes. The principle of the reinforcement of ceramics with whiskers (ceramic fibers) will be applied with studies showing the incorporation of inorganic nanofibers (also called ceramic nanofibers) can significantly improve the toughness of structured ceramics but it is not known if this effective for the reinforcement of porous ceramics and ceramic hollow fiber membranes.

Outcomes

Several techniques were developed for the manufacture of high-flux, reinforced ceramic hollow fibre membranes, ultrafine hollow fibre membranes and flexible, ultra-strong polymer-ceramic composite hollow fibre membranes.

Reinforcement with silicon carbide nanofibres results in significantly enhanced water flux and bending strength and these membranes are suitable for microfiltration applications.

Composite hollow fibre membranes, compromising of alumina powder, polyethersulfone (PES) and carbon nanotubes, demonstrated remarkably enhanced mechanical properties, with narrow molecular weight cut-offs and higher water flux compared to standard PES hollow fibre membranes.

The techniques developed here would require minimal additional manufacturing costs and are readily able to be up scaled.

Future Direction

Scale up the membrane manufacturing process and further test the membranes in a pilot scale water treatment process.

Technology Readiness

Further work is required to scale up the manufacturing processes. Commercial partners are being sought to assist with the next phases in scale-up and pilot-scale testing.

Partners


 

Total Value: $1,024,547 (cash and in-kind contributions)

Principal Investigator: Professor Huanting Wang

Title: Non-brittle ceramic hollow fibre membranes

Length: 50 months

Personnel: 7 collaborators contributing 3.8 FTE

Further Information

FR2 MONASH Wang (Ceramic) Summary Poster

Project Summary Poster – stronger ceramic membranes

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