Researchers at the Arcada University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki have made a major breakthrough in the development of a new production technology that can clean water at a much reduced cost. Arcada’s track etch membrane research group has been the first in the world to succeed in producing nano-sized pores using a method considered previously to be scientifically impossible.
According to Arcada, current water cleaning methods are either too expensive or unreasonably energy intensive. The new technology permits production of membranes that can filter substances from water based on their size or chemical properties at less than half the current production costs.
According to Dr. Mikael Paronen, Head of Department of Energy and Materials Technology, the researchers’ goal is to develop the technology further so that a finished product could be launched on the market within about two years.
He believes that the new technology could have a global impact by improving the availability of clean water. It enables significant reductions in membrane prices and subsequently broadens the future applications of membrane technologies.
The breakthrough came after five years of intensive research by the Arcada group and is based on an unexpectedly successful combination of existing technologies and their optimisation. According to Paronen, the largest volumes will most likely be seen in clean water production and in industrial process water treatment where, for example, the aim is to separate out valuable or hazardous substances.
The United Nations estimates that over one billion people around the world are affected by lack of access to clean water.