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IISc comes out with water-purifier membrane

Bengaluru: Jan 14, 2016, DHNS: 1:11 IST
Indian Institute of Science . DH file photo
Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have designed a membrane which can remove bacterial contamination from water, while at the same time preventing bio-fouling or the accumulation of micro-organisms on the membrane.

Dr. Suryasarathi Bose, Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Engineering, IISc, one of the authors of the study said: “This technology would be very useful for commercial use because the methodology adopted here and the technology employed in preparation is industrially viable and does not require intensive infrastructure. More importantly, they are eco-friendly.

The added advantage is that polyolefins are chemically inert and hence these membranes can be used in various industries, especially in the food or dairy industries”.

The newly designed membrane has a matrix made of polyethylene, the same material that is used to manufacture plastic bags.

It is a preferred choice to make such membranes due to its low cost, strength, durability and stability.The paper appeared in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

While bacterial contamination of water is a major health concern, bio-fouling accounts for almost half of the cases of membrane fouling, a process whereby a solution or a particle is deposited on a membrane thereby degrading it. It also it can block the filtration process, cause damage to the membrane and increase the cost of purification process.

This is a major problem in the use of technology. The advantages of this technology in comparison to the previously reported technologies for water purification is that it involves less cost and can be scaled-up without the need for extensive infrastructure. This membrane might be very useful as a pre-filter to extend the life time of commonly used RO (reverse-osmosis) membranes, said a release from the IISc.

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