Water scarcity. According to recent studies1, by the middle of this century almost two billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. About two thirds of the global population might live under water stress conditions by then.

Freshwater is a natural resource that can be renewable. However, as both population growth and density are rising, local suppliers increasingly encounter difficulties in providing the necessary water not only in amount, but also in quality. Freshwater is a makes up only a small percentage of the global water resources and is distributed very irregularly over the planet. Therefore, the most viable solution for warranting sufficient water supplies in the future is to produce water by desalination technology.

Membranes. Membrane technology has been widely applied for producing drinking or process water due to the fact that membrane processes are relatively energy efficient, economic and are easily scalable. However, membrane processes suffer from a significant problem which seriously affects the process efficiency and therefore economics: membrane fouling.

Membrane Fouling. During water filtration processes with membranes, commonly the flux of treated water decreases significantly with time. This is because organic, inorganic and biological matter present in untreated water interacts with the membrane surface where it deposits or adsorbs, resulting in what is known as fouling and/or biofouling  or - in the case of inorganic matter - as scaling.

Membrane cleaning. The consequence of fouling and scaling is that the filtration/desalination process efficiency is strongly affected and therefore cleaning procedures need to be put in place. These are often overdimensioned and can even be inappropriate owing to the lack of information on how membrane fouling has developed and to what degree. The consequence is an excessive cost for cleaning, plant downtime, and in the worst case significantly reduced lifetime of the membranes.

Ingenious Membranes offers an advanced sensorial technology which detects membrane fouling in a simple, reliable and robust manner on a very early stage, providing in this way the possibility to the plant operator to optimize membrane cleaning procedures. The technology developed by Ingenious Membranes offers a sensibility and versatility unmatched by current available commercial systems and yields a significantly higher process efficiency and sustainability.