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FO membranes offer new market opportunities, especially for food

The final report on Forward Osmosis Membranes and Modules (FOMM) has shown that the combination of an improved FO membrane with a new type of module configuration offers new market opportunities, especially for applications in the food industry. In particular, the possibility of far-reaching concentration at low temperatures makes it possible to produce new and high value concentrates. There are also possibilities for producing manure concentrates in manure processing.

The final report is now available. The report entails details on Forward osmosis (FO) as a technology, its development and the possible applications. With an end-goal to further optimize FO membranes and modules. During the span of the research, these were tested on a pilot scale to concentrate industrial feed streams. Thereby lifting FO technology towards TRL 7. 

A point for attention with FO membranes remains the so-called reverse solute flux (diffusion of the draw solution into the feed solution). The test from TU/e have showed that the new membranes with electrospin support and that the newly developed active layer is good starting points for this. In combination with the newly developed module type, we can now conclude that future possibilities exist for mild concentration with FO. Read all about it in the end report.  

Forward osmosis (FO) is a recently developed technology. Since the technology was developed on an academic level, there exist only few examples of applications in the market. Yet, FO could have strong benefits: it is energy efficient and an effective technology to concentrate highly contaminated and viscous media. Therefore, this project has built on the successful results of an Early Adopter Project of BLUE-tec. The Joint Industrial Project aimed to develop and optimize forward osmosis (FO) membrane and modules and test this technology on for concentrating industrial fluid flows at bench scale.  

Development of Forward Osmosis Membranes

The FOMM project investigated the following issues: 

1. Development of an FO membrane with higher fluxes and better selectivity than currently commercially available membranes. This research has been conducted with TU/e in the lead

2. Development of new module configurations for FO processes that can also concentrate more viscous or flows with suspended material.  This research has been performed by BLUE-tec

3. The actual concentration of food streams from industry. Bench scale installations realized by BLUE-tec were used for this purpose

4. Based on the bench scale tests the business cases for the different applications have been calculated

The research was conducted in close collaboration with Avebe, BlueTech, Nutricia, ZLTO, Darling, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and ISPT.