Dr. Andrea Semiao has received £125,000 from EPSRC to support a 15-month project which contributes to the global need for reliable and sustainable provision of clean drinking water. This is particularly important where conventional water resources are becoming increasingly insecure and contaminated.
The project focuses on the application of membrane filtration in water treatment, a growing technology applied in the provision of safe drinking water. At present, however, this technology suffers with the growth of microorganisms, which form a thick biofilm layer on the membrane surface. This leads to dangerously reduced quality and quantity of clean water produced, increased operational and energy costs, and a reduction in membrane life.
One way of cleaning the membrane and reducing the growth of microorganisms, is to use chemical cleaning regimes like chlorination. However, the process is inefficient, can damage the membrane and reduce its life, as well as react with contaminants from water and produce disinfection by-products which are suspected carcinogens. Dr. Semiao's project will demonstrate a novel and more sustainable method to clean the membrane to remove microorganisms from the membrane surface, hence maintaining the quality and quantity of water production and extending membrane life.