Tech Bundle


Singapore Membrane Consortium

Traditionally, membrane technology has been widely adopted by the water industry largely due to its lower cost and higher efficiency across the water production, treatment and recycling process. However, innovations in membrane technology are increasingly finding applications in the energy, pharmaceutical, biomedical, food and beverage, and environmental sectors. SG MEM has been set up as a platform to showcase Singapore’s unique ecosystem for membrane technology and to foster partnerships and collaborations towards developing enterprise solutions for the various industry sectors beyond the traditional water space.

Ultra-permeable Biomimetic Membrane for Desalination
Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) is the state-of-the-art technology to transform the inexhaustible supply of seawater into freshwater to alleviate water stress worldwide. Nevertheless, the least energy-intensive seawater desalination plant still consumes around 3 kWh per m3 water produced, which is three to four times higher than surface water treatment. Thus, the biomimetic membrane is explored to improve the energy efficiency to maintain the sustainability of seawater desalination. A unique aquaporin-based biomimetic membrane (ABM) is formulated by incorporating the water channel proteins, aquaporins, into a polyamide membrane matrix to fabricate ultra-permeable SWRO membrane for clean water production. This robust ABM can be operated at the harsh condition of the desalination plant, i.e., high salinity, high operating pressure and extreme chemical cleaning process for the membrane. In addition, the ABM exhibits excellent performance stability and antifouling propensity. Most importantly, it is scalable to the industrial production level. The technology owner is interested in seeking technology licensing collaborators or manufacturing partners.
Membrane System for High Recovery Water Reclamation
Reclaimed water is a critical source of water in Singapore and globally. Common practical limit of existing technology based on microfiltration/ultrafiltration-membrane bioreactor (MF/UF-MBR) and reverse osmosis (RO) for water reclamation has 75-85% recovery due to RO membrane fouling. This technology presents a hybrid system consisting of a high retention nanofiltration-membrane bioreactor (NF-MBR) and RO developed to achieve ≥90% of water recovery. NF-MBR produces superior quality effluent because the NF membrane can retain low molecular weight organics and scale forming divalent ions. Thus, membrane fouling in downstream RO process can be alleviated significantly, which allows higher recovery.
Enabling Carbon Capture via Hydrogen Separation Membrane
Today, up to 95% of hydrogen (H2) produced is termed grey H2 as it is formed via steam methane reforming (SMR) using fossil fuels such as natural gas. This hydrogen is used in producing everything from fuels to plastics and is aptly named grey H2 as the carbon dioxide (CO2) from this reaction is expensive to capture and is often released or sent to the stack to be burnt off. With the global net-zero CO2 emissions target looming, there is an urgent need for technologies that can improve the efficiency of processes using grey H2 and economically capture the released CO2 making grey H2 into blue H2. This technology offer is a hydrogen separation membrane that reduces the cost of hydrogen purification and carbon capture. It is a temperature and corrosion-resistant membrane that is able to selectively filter out H2. By splitting syngas into H2 and CO2-rich streams, it simultaneously purifies hydrogen and pre-concentrates the CO2 for transport and sequestration. Furthermore, there is an additional benefit that waste H2 can be inexpensively recovered to improve the overall process efficiency. Hydrogen plants incorporating this technology now produce blue H2 and can generate additional income through higher efficiencies, hydrotreater margins, and carbon credits. The technology owner is seeking partners and collaborators, especially those in the oil and gas refineries or other H2 intensive industries, for pilot trials of their technology.
Nature-Inspired Superhydrophobic Membranes For Membrane Distillation
Membrane distillation (MD) is a membrane technology based on the vapour pressure gradient across the porous hydrophobic membrane. MD offers several advantages such as lower operating pressures and insensitive to feed concentration for seawater desalination. However, the commercialization of MD process has been constrained mainly by the lack of commercially available high-performance MD membranes and high energy consumption. Current state-of-the-art lab-scale fabrication of superhydrophobic membranes for membrane distillation often involve complex surface modifications and/or the massive usage of nanomaterials. However, these methods are often difficult to be scaled up. Hence, a pure rheological spray-assisted non-solvent induced phase separation (SANIPS) approach has been developed to fabricate superhydrophobic polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membranes. The resulting membranes are found to have high porosity, superhydrophobic, high liquid entry pressure and hierarchical micro/nanostructures and can be easily scaled up. This facile fabrication method is envisioned to pave the way for large-scale production of superhydrophobic membranes for membrane distillation.
Membrane Separation for Protein Concentration
Membrane technology has been widely utilized in the water industry while niche applications such as protein separations are relatively lesser known. For protein clarification and concentration processes, decanter centrifuges and hydro-cyclones are usually deployed but may not achieve the required separation quality. Membrane separation methods have proven to bring better separation quality given an edge to potential adopters. This technology relates to a hollow fiber Microfiltration (MF) & Ultrafiltration (UF) membrane developed by the technology owner that can replace decanter centrifuge as a concentration method. The technology owner is seeking co-development partners to explore membrane applications in protein clarification and concentration. Building on a strong foundation in membrane substantial know-how in membrane process separation industries, the technology owner would like to partner with the alternative protein and food industry to test bed the hollow fiber membrane technology.
Sustainable Solutions for Chemical Separation and Purification
The chemical separation industry is highly energy intensive. It accounts for about 15% of world’s energy consumption and is one the world’s largest silent polluters, producing more than 10% of the annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. To tackle this challenge, the technology provider has developed solvent-resistant nanofiltration membranes with nanosized pores to achieve chemical separations at a molecular level without the use of heat. By integrating the technology into the chemical separation processes, this technology can reduce their energy consumption and GHG emissions by 90% and lower their operating cost by up to 50%. The technology provider is seeking industrial partners for collaboration opportunities and would like to work with partners to identify and solve their pain points in chemical separation processes by utilizing this nanofiltration technology.
Membrane Distillation: Hydrophilic & Fouling Resistant
Compared to other desalination technologies, membrane distillation (MD) possesses several advantages, including the tolerance to high salinity, the capability to leverage low-grade heat sources, and the low capital expenditure. However, MD faces the problems of membrane wetting and fouling when desalinating wastewater and seawater with complex compositions. Membrane wetting is a prominent challenge to MD because it allows direct permeation of the salty feed across membrane pores, resulting in salt passage and process failure. The inherent hydrophobicity of conventional MD membranes increases the fouling propensity of organic foulants (e.g., proteins and oil). This blocks the membrane pores, which leads to a lower water productivity. Oil-induced fouling is particularly relevant to MD because MD has been extensively explored and shown promising to desalinate the produced water from hypersaline shale oil/gas streams. This technology relates to a novel NF/MD membrane to combat the issue of surfactant-induced wetting in MD. A dense top layer, which mimics the selective layer of NF membranes, is constructed on top of a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) MD membrane. The technology owner is currently seeking interested commercial entities to license the technology and develop it into a product.
Quorum Quenching for Fouling Control in Membrane Bioreactors
Membrane bioreactors (MBR) have been widely used in full-scale plants for wastewater treatment and water reclamation due to its highly compact design and treatment efficiency, low sludge production, and excellent effluent quality. However, membrane fouling remains as a bottleneck for MBR operation as it severely reduces the flux and increases operating and maintenance costs, which accounts for around 60% of the overall operational cost. This technology utilises Alginate-Powder Activated Carbon - Quorum Quenching (APQ) beads to significantly slow down the membrane biofouling rate. This prolongs the membrane lifetime and reduces operational cost. This technology offer provides a technology package, including production, storage, reactivation, recovery, and reuse methods of APQ beads. MBR technology providers can benefit from this technology to improve the competitiveness of their MBR product and end users can save on overall operational cost.
Cost-effective Centrifugal Reverse Osmosis
The increase in demand for freshwater during the 20th century has led to a global water-scarcity crisis suffered by 40% of the population in the world. The situation is exacerbated by contamination of freshwater resources, global climate change, industrialization, and rapid population growth. Less than 0.008% of the water on this earth is available for its current population of 7.7 billion people. The only way to increase our available freshwater supply is through desalination of seawater. Desalination via reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology now dominates the world market. However, an endemic problem of RO desalination is its high-cost relative to freshwater sources. A major contributor to this disparity is the high-pressure pumping cost for RO. Centrifugal reverse osmosis (CRO) can significantly reduce the pumping cost for RO because it operates close to the minimum energy required for separating freshwater from saltwater. It does this by rotating a membrane module to cause a centrifugal pressure that increases with increasing distance from the axis-of-rotation. As such, the local pressure is only slightly higher than the minimum required for RO. In contrast, conventional RO desalination employs a high-pressure pump to operate the entire membrane module at the maximum pressure. This novel CRO technology can reduce the energy required for a 50% recovery of freshwater from a typical seawater feed by over 30%. The technology owner is seeking collaborations with companies interested in licensing this technology for pilot-scale testing and commercial application.