3D Printed Feed Channel Spacers for Spiral Wound Membrane Module

Problem Statement

Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology is confronted with challenges associated with high energy requirement. Optimization of feed spacer is necessary to reduce the cost and energy demand of the RO process, but the spacer designs are restricted by geometrical constraints.

Objective

This project aims to develop prototypes of novel spacer for spiral wound module (SWM) via additive manufacturing with higher degree of freedom, with complex geometries that maximise mass transfer, minimise pressure drop and fouling.

RO membrane elements adopt the spiral wound module (SWM) as the standard configuration In the SWM, feed channel spacers, which are sheets of plastic mesh sandwiched between adjacent membranes, have a pivotal role in the fluid management within the SWM. Conventional plastic net-typed spacers are typically produced via extrusion method.
RO membrane elements adopt the spiral wound module (SWM) as the standard configuration In the SWM, feed channel spacers, which are sheets of plastic mesh sandwiched between adjacent membranes, have a pivotal role in the fluid management within the SWM. Conventional plastic net-typed spacers are typically produced via extrusion method.

Key Benefits/Outcomes

  • Achieved 34% of lower fouling rate compared to the normal spacer
  • Nearly no Si was fouled on 3D-printed spacer SWM with 97.7% lower Si amount
  • Comparable performance of permeability and salt rejection with conventional spacer SWM
  • Filed a Technology Disclosure with title of “3D printing of large scale sheet-like models beyond build volume of printer” to overcome build size limitation

Collaborator

Contacts

Mr. Marc Lee marc.lee@ntuitive.sg