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.
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.
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.
Scale up the membrane manufacturing process and further test the membranes in a pilot scale water treatment process.
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.
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
- 2015. Feng, Y., et al. Carbon Nanotube/Alumina/Polyethersulfone Hybrid Hollow Fiber Membranes with Enhanced Mechanical and Anti-Fouling Properties. Nanomaterials 5 (3):1366.
- 2015. Feng, Y. Nanostructured membranes for water treatment. PhD thesis, Monash University.
- 2015. Xu, G. Supported ceramic membranes. PhD thesis, University of Science and Technology, China.
- 2014. NCEDA Fresh Ideas Exchange. Perth, Australia.
- 2014. Project Review Meeting. Perth, Australia.
- 2014. Xu, G., et al. SiC nanofiber reinforced porous ceramic hollow fiber membranes. Journal of Materials Chemistry A 2 (16):5841-5846.
- 2013. Feng, Y., et al. Effect of the addition of polyvinylpyrrolidone as a pore-former on microstructure and mechanical strength of porous alumina ceramics. Ceramics International 39 (7):7551-7556.
- 2012. Yao, J., et al. Phase inversion spinning of ultrafine hollow fiber membranes through a single orifice spinneret. Journal of Membrane Science 421–422 (0):8-14.
- 2012. Chinese Academy of Science. Changchun, China.