New production technique for membranes

Arcada’s track etch membrane research group has been the first in the world to succeed in producing nano-sized pores using a new method.The method’s most significant advantage is a reduction in costs to less than half of the current value. Head of Department Dr. Mikael Paronen claims that the new technology could be important globally in the availability of clean water. According to the UN over one billion people are affected by lack of access to clean water.Dirty or salty water can be made drinkable with technology already available. Current cleaning methods, however, are either too expensive or unreasonably energy intensive. Of various alternative water treatment methods, those based on nanoporous membranes are technically the most promising but also cost the most. Such membranes can cost thousands of Euros per square metre, and so the technology attracts only niche applications, says the University.“Our starting point in the development of new manufacturing technology for nanoporous membranes has been to reduce production costs significantly. Our research group has been open to exploring alternative manufacturing methods, and in this context we have benefited from combining our experiences and the scientific literature,” says Paronen.The new technology permits production of membranes that can filter substances from water based on their size or chemical properties. The best known solution for producing membranes with this capability is the track etch method. Arcada’s newly developed technology is based partly on the same principle, but with minor modification has transformed production economics to make it cost-effective.The new production technology enables significant reductions in membrane prices and subsequently broadening future applications of membrane technologies. The largest volumes will most likely be seen in clean water production and in industrial process water treatment where, for example, the aim is to separate out valuable or hazardous substances.