Swansea academics publish a landmark Handbook that highlights the importance of membrane fabrication

Swansea academics publish a landmark Handbook that highlights the importance of

Senior academics from Swansea University have concluded, in a newly published groundbreaking study, that membrane fabrication is essential for the continued growth in industrial application of membranes.

Today there are not only key industrial applications such as desalination, commodity chemical processing or waste water treatment, membranes are also being fabricated for use in fuel cells, pharmaceutical production and emerging medical technologies such as tissue engineering..

Professor Nidal Hilal (Chair in Water Process Engineering and Editor-in-Chief of the International journal Desalination) and Dr Chris J. Wright (Reader in Bioprocess Engineering) both from the College of Engineering, Swansea University are the co-authors of the recently published handbook titled ‘Membrane Fabrication’.

The handbook is extremely important for professionals such as analytical scientists, material engineers, and environmental chemists, as well as chemical and environmental engineers.

The handbook addresses membrane manufacturing and comprehensively reviews and assesses the membrane fabrication process and the techniques for inorganic, polymeric and composite membranes. It discusses various commercial and emerging fabrication techniques and details how different membranes can be fabricated and tailored for specific applications including desalination and water treatment.

The authors remarks assume significance following an industry study by the Freedonia Group that reports global demand for membranes is projected to increase a healthy 9% annually to US$19.3 billion by 2015, while demand for water desalination products and services is forecast to increase 9.3% annually to US$13.4 billion by 2015.

The Freedonia Group is a leading international business research company that publishes more than 100 industry research studies annually. It predicts that rising environmental standards and regulations in many parts of the world, and high population growth, particularly in water-stressed areas, will further drive investment in membrane-based water and wastewater systems. Oil-rich nations are increasingly shifting to more efficient membrane desalination systems (reverse osmosis) and the Middle East and North Africa will account for about two-thirds of global demand for desalination products and services, the study adds and points out that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait are the largest desalination markets in the Middle East.

The handbook by Professor Hilal and Dr Wright presents a comprehensive review of the current developments within membrane separation processes with a focus on process optimization through control of membrane surface properties for key industrial applications.  According to them, membrane processes have many other applications apart from desalination.

Professor Hilal said: “In addition to their use in water treatment and desalination, membrane processes are used in pharmaceutical industries to separate valuable medical products including solids such as powders in the size range between one nanometre and 10 microns.”

Dr Wright added: “ The importance and versatility of membrane systems could range from industries such as water treatment and desalination to fuel cells to pharmaceutical production and emerging medical technologies such as tissue engineering.”

The book presents a complete range of membrane fabrication techniques and geometries including flat-sheet, hollow-fiber and nano-fiber membranes, reverse osmosis (RO), membrane distillation (MD), gas separation (GS), pervaporation (PV), and membrane fuel cells (MFC).

Professor Hilal concluded: “Membrane fabrication techniques will have significant impact on industry as they will lead to an optimized membrane processes that offer more products at less cost. More specifically, water industry will benefit from operating better fouling-resistant membranes in reverse osmosis desalination plants as it will reduce operational fouling problems and therefore reduce cost.”

Professor Nidal Hilal holds a chair in Water Process Engineering and is the Founding Director of Centre for Water Advanced Technologies and Environmental Research (CWATER) at Swansea University in the United Kingdom. He is also the Editor-in-Chief for the international journal Desalination, on the editorial boards of a number of international journals and a member of the advisory boards of several multinational organizations. Professor Hilal obtained a PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1988 from Swansea University and in recognition of his outstanding research contribution in Nanotechnology and Membrane Separation he was awarded a Doctorate of Science degree (DSc) from the University of Wales in 2005. He was also awarded the prestigious Kuwait Prize of Applied Science for the year 2005. Professor Hilal is internationally recognized as a world-leader in developing and applying the force measurement capability of AFM to the study of membrane separation and engineering processes at the nanoscale. He has published around 300 articles in the refereed scientific literature including 27 chapters and 6 handbooks. He is a Chartered Engineer in the UK (CEng), a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (FIChemE) and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW). Professor Hilal has served on and has carried out extensive consultancy for industry, government departments, research councils and universities on an international basis.

Dr Chris Wright is a Reader in BioProcess Engineering within the College of Engineering at Swansea University. At Swansea he is Director of the Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre (MNC), Executive Member of the Centre for NanoHealth and Associate Director of the Centre for Complex Fluids Processing. He graduated from the University of Wales in 1996 with a PhD in Biochemical Engineering.  In 2001 he was awarded a prestigious Advanced Research Fellowship from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) in recognition of his innovative research applying atomic force microscopy (AFM) to the characterisation of membrane and biological surfaces. This five year award allowed him to establish an internationally recognised research group exploiting the capabilities of AFM.  Dr Wright is now internationally recognized as a world-leader for the application of AFM to the characterisation of microbial surfaces with application to process engineering. His research interests now include the control of polymer surfaces for improved membrane separation and tissue engineering, the control of biofilms and the combination of AFM with advanced light microscopy methods. An underlying theme of this research is the application of nanotechnology to health care. He has over 90 peer reviewed international publications with 18 invited book chapter and review articles.

Professor Nidal Hilal and Dr Chris J. Wright (College of Engineering, Swansea University) book titledMembrane Fabrication has been published by CRC Press. ISBN: 9781482210453.

For more information about Swansea University College of Engineering go tohttp://www.swansea.ac.uk/engineering