The Consortium will use the Aquaporin Inside™ technology capable of separating and purifying water from all other compounds. Water extracted by Aquaporin membranes will be recycled to reduce waste and design a water-sustainable purification process. The principle of reusing some of the waste water, for instance to regenerate buffers of interest, can be made possible by active water transport membranes from the company Aquaporin, which lately received the award of Inventor of the Year 2014 (category SME) from the European Patent Office.
The basic design for the Aquaporin A/S membranes is based on a thin film composite (TFC) membrane prototype prepared by interfacial polymerization, where vesicles with aquaporin protein embedded within the vesicle wall are immobilized onto a porous support. The membrane has superior flux and rejection performance and is commercialized as the Aquaporin Inside™ technology for environmental applications. The Aquaporin Inside™ membrane is working in Forward Osmosis (FO). It operates by concentrating a feed solution (FS) and diluting a highly concentrated aqueous solution – the draw solution (DS). The larger osmotic pressure of the DS compared to the FS constitutes the driving force for the separation process. Thus, FO is an osmotic concentration process which in principle can operate at zero hydrostatic pressure providing a sustainable water treatment solution.
FO membrane extraction solutions deliver global operational cost reductions (not only process-related) through significant energy reductions combined with the improved ability to handle “difficult” (high turbidity and/or temperature sensitive) process streams and to recover valuable resources from these steams with sustainable advantages. This includes the production of extracted water/up-concentrated solutions leading to direct cost advantages in a wide range of production processes including downstream processes, reduction of waste-water stream volumes with potential recovery of otherwise lost resources, and buffer dilution enabling recycling of elution liquids in downstream processing.
In this project, the DS could be concentrated elution buffer that will be adequately diluted by incorporation of water extracted from upstream waste media or other upstream fluids. Similar process could be applied for the concentration of the bulk to be purified, the major expected benefit being a smooth, pressure-free process with less strain to the products.