Liquids, water in particular, are the basis of life and without them life would be impossible. Thanks to their unique qualities, nanofibers have the greatest potential in the field of liquid filtration. Nanofibers are a hope for millions of people who do not have access to drinking water, and also a fantastic business opportunity.
The biggest advantage nanofibers have over existing technology is their ability to remove undesirable particles and elements from water (and other liquids) at low cost, with most of the savings made on electricity.
We use membranes for filtering water. At present these membranes are divided into several categories, depending on the size of filtered material, for:
Liquid filtration can be used in the following fields:
- Drinking water
Nanofiber membranes for making water potable represent the best chance of getting drinking water for the largest part of the population. They are mostly used to desalinate sea water - here nanofiltration and reverse osmosis with preliminary treatment by nanofiltration and ultrafiltration are applicable. However, drinking water can also be produced from hygienically unsafe surface sources with low energy costs with the aid of nanofiber membranes.
- Waste water
Problems of contaminated waste water, which still contain hazardous compounds (e.g. pesticides or hormones) even after conventional purification treatment, can be solved using nanofiber membranes. At present industrial filters are only able to remove hazardous substances at a high cost, which means they are not used and these substances pose a significant health risk for human populations. Nanofiber membranes are a cheaper, less energy-intensive solution.
- Bio-pharmaceutical processes
Bio-pharmaceutical processes producing medicines and nutritional supplements can make effective use of these membranes in processing technological water which are generated during these processes. This reconversion to drinking water means large cost savings. Filtration (especially nanofiltration) can be applied for filtering blood, urine or pharmaceutical processes (e.g. producing demineralized waters).
- Drinks filtering
Nanofiber membranes can also be used for filtering drinks, e.g. bottled water, beer, wine, fruit and vegetable juices, and in particular filtering and thickening milk. These membranes can remove undesirable microorganisms which could reduce shelf-life or have a negative effect on health. They can also remove substances which change the appearance of liquids (colors, organic and inorganic compounds) or their taste (metals, undesirable aromatic compounds). In this field micro- and ultrafiltration have the broadest application.
Given the results in the development of these membranes, nanofiber membranes with their unique properties are expected to gradually replace current membranes.