Toray develops durable reverse osmosis membrane

Japan’s Toray Industries Inc has developed a highly durable reverse osmosis (RO) membrane that saves water, doubles chemical resistance, halves replacement frequencies and reduces CO2 emissions.

Results of RO membrane structural analysis
Results of RO membrane structural analysis

The new membrane offers double the resistance to cleaning chemicals of conventional counterparts. This reduces performance degradation from membrane wear and simplifies operational management, halving replacement frequencies and shrinking the product’s carbon footprint.

Toray is preparing to mass produce this membrane and launch it in the rapidly expanding Chinese market in the first half of 2024. The company is also looking to develop products with the new membrane for the global market including Japan.

The company combined a Toray Research Center-developed scanning transmission electron microscopy technology and a digital data analysis technique to quantitatively analyze the pore of the separation layer of RO membranes, which is smaller than one nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in diameter. Toray drew on the analysis to identify a substructure that helps enhance pore structure stability when in contact with cleaning chemicals. It innovated a manufacturing process to design a new polymer structure, thus creating a RO membrane that delivers a stable pore structure.