Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Fuel cell membrane materials offer solution for removing salt from water

The problem of separating salt from water has long been solved by forcing the water through a polyamide membrane in a process called reverse osmosis (RO).

However, the water can't be disinfected with chlorine because it degrades polyamid material. Now, researchers at Virginia Tech have created a new polymer membrane for RO that will not be degraded by chlorine.

They will present the research at the 232nd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society on September 10-14 in San Francisco.

"Our RO materials grew out of our work on proton exchange membrane (PEM) materials used in fuel cells," said James McGrath, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Tech. "The polymer structure is similar, but PEM materials are treated with a dilute acid and the RO materials are treated with a salt to put them in the neutral form."

... more about:
»McGrath »Membrane »Water

Last year, McGrath's group received funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop an RO material that would not break down from chlorine. "We have suggested for some time that PEM materials could be used so our students quickly began sending sample materials for testing to Benny D. Freeman, chemical engineer at the University of Texas, Austin. And within a year we had a successful material. "People have been doing RO for 40 years, but not with this new material," McGrath said.

Post doctoral Associate Zhong-Biao Zhang will deliver a paper on how the new materials are made and how they work at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Salon B3 of the Marriott. Authors of "Synthesis of di-sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) random copolymers as novel candidates for chlorine-resistant reverse osmosis membranes (PMSE 494)" are Zhang, Virginia Tech graduate students Guang-Yu Fan and Mehmet Sankir, Ho Bum Park and Freeman at the University of Texas, and McGrath.

The ONR has expanded the project to add Don Baird, professor of chemical engineering at Virginia Tech, to fabricate the membrane. "The material we created and evaluated in the first year was relatively thick," McGrath said. "To be competitive, it has to be a thin film so the water can pass through quickly -- 10 to 100 times thinner than our present samples. That is not trivial but we think we know how to do it."

The Virginia Tech research group has created an asymmetric membrane. Imagine rigid foam with a thin membrane skin. The separation takes place at the skin and the water passes quickly through the foam's large pores. Without the foam, the skin or film layer is not strong enough to withstand the pressure of RO.

McGrath is now looking for companies to work with to produce the new material.

He is also working on a different process to separate ethanol from water. "We think we can make membranes to do that too," he said.

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: McGrath Membrane Water

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>