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Defense of PhD Thesis regarding End-of-life RO membrane recycling

Reverse osmosis (RO) is the most employed technology for water desalination. However, membrane fouling is inevitable and one of the main reasons for a regular membrane replacement. Due to the continuous growth of this technology, end-of-life RO membrane management has created an economic and environmental concern. Therefore, alternative management routes need to be faced by the industry and academia.

The study of the direct recycling process as a feasible alternative to produce nanofiltration (NF) and ultrafiltration (UF) recycled membranes has been the subject of the doctoral thesis of Raquel García Pacheco, researcher in the Membrane Technology Group from IMDEA Water and participant in the LIFE-TRANSFOMEM project. The Doctoral Thesis, “Nanofiltration and ultrafiltration membranes from end-of-life reverse osmosis membranes. A study of recycling”, was directed by Dr. Eloy García and Dr. Junkal Landaburu and defended on May 11 at the University of Alcalá. The researchers that have been evaluating the Thesis was composed by Susana Luque (Universidad de Oviedo), Joao Crespo (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) y Arcadio Sotto (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos)

In this study membrane fouling was characterized through thermo-gravimetric, spectrometric and microbiological techniques.

In the study at laboratory scale, the effect of exposure time, pH solution and membrane storage (dry and wet) on the recycling process, were investigated.

The impact created on the membranes was evaluated in terms of permeability and rejection coefficients, during brackish water treatment.

The results were compared with several pristine commercial membranes (RO, NF and UF) obtaining in the recycled membrane performance values within the range values observed using comercial nanofiltration membrane models. Moreover, membranes exposed to high exposure level were also compared to a commercial UF membrane. Recycled membranes showed rejection coefficients similar or higher than the commercial one, when treating urban wastewater.

The recycling process at pilot scale required analogous exposure doses (ppm·h) to those used at laboratory scale. At both scales, membrane scaling affected significantly the recycling process.

This study demonstrates that direct passive recycling could be a feasible alternative that can further boost the RO membrane technology towards circular economy approach.




Elena Campos at the 3rd International Conference on Desalination using Membrane Technology

Elena Campos (Valoriza Agua) has presented today the first results of the validation of NF recycled membranes (from end-of-life RO membranes) treating brackish water in a real desalination plant. We are evaluating 6 membranes (BW and SW) in two pressure tubes within the Life-Transfomem framework proyect. The oral presentation has been conducted at the 3rd International Conference on Desalination using Membrane Technology at the Palacio de Congresos de Canarias, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain


Recycled RO membranes could be reused for wastewater reclaiming

La importancia del agua es vital; es un recurso finito y vulnerable que hay que cuidar para lograr los objetivos del desarrollo sostenible. Sólo el 3% del agua del planeta es agua dulce, se encuentra cada vez más contaminada y de distribuye de manera irregular. El World Resources Institute (WRI) sitúa a España en la posición número 32 de los países con mayor estrés hídrico en el 2040.

España es uno de los países más avanzados en el campo de las tecnologías del sector del agua. La escasez de recursos hídricos tanto en el litoral mediterráneo, como en los archipiélagos insulares y en el sur de la península ha hecho que España invierta en la utilización de fuentes de agua no convencionales como son el agua salada y el agua residual.

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