Roadshow Polymer Membranes

The roadshow Polymer Membranes shows two interesting projects from the research of the group Membrane Materials and Processes (MM/P). Kitty Nijmeijer and Zandrie Borneman manage some fifteen applied research projects that focuses on the creation, characterization, and application of membranes for a variety of applications.

The roadshow started on 27 September, 2019, during Momentum in the hall of Auditorium and traveled during more then a year over the campus. It consists of two flat 'íce cream' carts that imitate the processes of Clean water and Blue Energy. Animations explain the proces.

What is a membrane?
A membrane is a filter with small pores that let some of the substances through and others not. It looks like a straw. The term membrane is derived partly from the French membrane (web in a plant / thin smooth skin around organs) and partly from the Latin membrana (thin skin, membrane, parchment), a derivation of membrum (part of the body). MM/P creates them in all kind of shapes and sizes, depended from the necessary application.

Clean water
Using membranes to produce potable water from ground water. You can even drink the purified water! MM/P is doing research into the application of polymeric membranes in water to purify waste water and re-use of water. The emphasis strongly lies on waste water, recovery of valuable components in water and re-use of waste water. Membranes are used widespread for decades in water treatment installations.

Blue energy
A striking project the group has undertaken is Blue Energy. In this, electricity is generated by bringing fresh river water and salty seawater in contact with each other through a membrane. The membrane allows in this case no water, but salt ions to diffuse into the fresh water from the salt sea water. And the movement of electrically charged ions creates an electric current. 'Blue energy' centers on the boundary between fresh and salt water (such as estuaries) could potentially cover the world more than 10% of global electricity demand. For several years there is a little 'blue' power plant on the Afsluitdijk (in 2016 declared National Icon) and there are plans for a ten times larger plant at Katwijk, with a capacity of 1 megawatt. That is sufficient energy for about sixteen hundred households.

Read the article in Cursor.

Check out more about the membrane research.