Although we seem to be blessed in Western Europe with clean water from the tap, reports on issues related to drinking water quality are increasing at an alarming rate. It has been reported that the presence of micro-pollutants in water, such as pesticides, drug residues and hormone-disrupting compounds, have an effect on our health after long term exposure at small concentrations. This problem has also been addressed in the Water Framework Directive of the European Union. Current water treatment methods cannot effectively remove these micro-pollutants unless expensive, energy intensive processes are deployed.
NX Filtration has accepted this challenge and has spent the last two years developing a new generation of nanofiltration membranes aimed at removing these micro-pollutants. At the membrane technology research department of the University of Twente, new nanofiltration membranes were developed successfully at a laboratory scale. The basis of these membranes is a very thin, polymeric selective layer, which passes the pure water but rejects the micro-pollutants. This requires advanced polymers with a high charge-density, which were developed by the Department of Material Science and Polymer Technology of University of Twente.
In order to ensure the effective production of both the advanced polymers as well as the nanofiltration membranes, a sustainable and process intensive manufacturing method is required. The solution developed by NXF reduces the energy consumption in the membrane production by more than 50%. To accelerate this innovation, NX Filtration is working closely with Artecs, a local SME with proven expertise in polymer processing.
As a final validation, the membranes are installed in a system and tested by the water company Oasen. The installation is designed to minimize footprint and power consumption of the filtration process and will produce pure water as the final product. Sustainability is again the central theme in this process.
MEDUWA (MEDicines Unwanted in Water) develops innovative solutions to avoid emissions of pharmaceuticals and multi-resistant microorganisms into soil, water, air, and food.
Recently, a new project of the EU-funded Dutch-German Meduwa consortium in which NX Filtration (NXF) participates has been approved. Focus of the NXF project will be on the development of a process using hollow fiber nanofiltration to remove micro-pollutants from surface water for the production of potable water. Another application that will be investigated is final treatment of municipal waste water prior to discharge meeting strict EU regulations.
The hollow fiber configuration is expected to reduce energy costs and reduce pretreatment of the membrane process and is expected to result in a significant reduction in capital as well as operating cost. Various municipalities and industrial clients have expressed interest in this new nanofiltration process with the ability to efficiently remove micro-pollutants.