Clean water is a scarce resource, and several places worldwide already experience water crises. This negative development is not just seen in developing countries – it affects everyone, everywhere. Simultaneously, in a crowded world, the water demand continues to grow. Therefore, we need to manage our water efficiently and sustainably to sustain human life as well as our continually improving lifestyles. Ceramic membrane technology is a crucial part of managing our water efficiently and sustainably and can concurrently optimize your operation by delivering several significant advantages. Learn more about how membrane technology enables sustainable water resources management in the below video.
Ceramic Membranes vs. Polymeric Membranes
The alternatives to ceramic silicon carbide membranes are polymeric membranes and ceramic oxide membranes.
Polymeric membranes can be produced of various materials, such as polysulfone, polyamide, or cellulose acetates. These types of membranes are heavily used in various industries due to their low manufacturing cost and easy scalability. Polymeric membranes are incredibly efficient for reverse osmosis (RO) filtration. The organic material ensures the most optimal and durable performance for this filtration type due to the dense pore size. Yet, these materials are more inexpensive as they provide a low level of thermal and chemical strength, making it difficult to handle aggressive fluids from harsh environments. Depending on the industry where the membranes are to operate, this can be a significant disadvantage as it may lead to a deteriorated liquid filtration process. Likewise, polymeric membranes cannot handle frequent cleaning or sterilization processes, which are otherwise essential in many industries, such as, e.g., the processing of food and beverage or pharmaceuticals.
Ceramic membranes are produced of various inorganic materials, such as alumina, titania, zirconia, and silicon carbide. As silicon carbide is the second hardest material in the world, solely exceeded by diamonds and the hardest human-made material ever made, this material provides some unique advantages. Read more about the ultra-hard material silicon carbide here. Contrary to polymeric membranes, silicon carbide ceramic membranes deliver mechanical, thermal, and chemical strength – all of which add to a longer membrane lifetime than what polymeric membranes can offer. Additionally, ceramic membranes have a higher hydrophilicity level, which provides higher water fluxes and a reduced number of membrane fouling problems compared to their polymeric counterpart.
Possibilities With Ceramic Membranes
The principles of membrane technology and water filtration can be quite tricky. But basically, a ceramic membrane operates as a filter, allowing water molecules to permeate its surface. At the same time, it retains the concentrate, which can be, e.g., suspended solids, oil droplets, oil emulsions, particles, and bacteria. The ceramic membranes have many tiny pores, similar to the holes in a sponge, just much smaller. Learn more about how a ceramic membrane works here.
Ceramic membranes are heavily employed in the preparation of process water and for the filtration and purification of wastewater. Membrane technology is increasingly focused on in wastewater treatment as it is essential to filter contaminated wastewater streams, especially if they are to be discharged into sensitive areas or waters. Add to that; there are significant growth prospects in employing membrane technology as it enables water reuse and recycling for efficient water management and reduced reliance on external freshwater suppliers. This will eventually also open for other relevant industries, which will enable them to run a more sustainable operation. So, by applying ceramic membranes in your operation, you are prepared for the future.
Advantages of Ceramic Membranes
The advantages of utilizing ceramic membrane technology are numerous. Ceramic membranes can be produced from several materials. However, the solid and ultra-hard material silicon carbide provides robustness and durability, and it is within this material many of the advantages are. Ceramic silicon carbide membranes provide:
- Highest flux for any membrane material
- Chemically inert pH 0-14
- Thermally resistant up to 800 ˚C
- Hydrophilic material (Water-loving)
- Extremely hard and durable material 2930 +/- 80 kgf/mm3 (Vickers scale)
- Abrasive feeds
- Low power usage and low pressure
- Long membrane lifetime
- Low operational cost and low total cost of ownership
Of all membrane materials, silicon carbide provides the highest water flux, which means that regardless of what liquid is to be filtered, ceramic membranes provide the endurance to manage such a task. Furthermore, this material is chemically inert in all pH values from 0-14. As this material is also thermally resistant up to 800 ˚C, ceramic membranes can operate in rough conditions and with many liquids. Silicon carbide provides a high level of hydrophilicity, which means that the material is water-loving. This is seen as the surface absorbs liquids. Simultaneously, this material repels oils, which are to be sorted out. Lastly, ceramic membranes also contribute to black numbers due to sustainable operations with reduced power usage, which lowers your operational costs. Likewise, ceramic membranes are exceptionally robust, which provides a long lifetime and thereby a low total cost of ownership.
Sustainable Solutions for an Improved Future
Advanced technology and innovative thinking are vital in developing new technologies, which can support our constantly improving lifestyle. Ceramic membranes represent one of those technologies, which can both enhance your growth as well as the environment’s well-being. Due to the many product features and advantages described above, ceramic membranes also contribute to process stability, low energy consumption, and a long lifetime – all of which result in a minimum need for maintenance and support. Simultaneously, it enables you to lower your waste materials as concentrated streams produced in the liquid filtration process can be reused in other manufacturing processes. Concentrate streams may contain unused raw materials, which can benefit other production areas. Ceramic membranes thereby let you operate a green business with black numbers.
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