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ACADEMIC EXPERTISE FOR BUSINESS (A4B)

FEASIBILITY STUDY

Knowledge Transfer of Advanced Membrane and Surface Technologies for Process Engineering and Biomedical Applications

Summary

The Centre is undertaking a feasibility study to clarify and assess


• industrial sectors that could benefit from adopting advanced membrane separation technologies.
• the market size for advanced membrane and surface technology with a new emphasis on relevance to health and medical sectors.
• the resources available within Welsh academia which could provide complementary technologies and expertise to form a consortium of leading academic groups and research organizations to maximise assistance of Welsh industry.

It is intended to use the findings of the study to justify funding of a Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC) which will work to collaborate with local industry in providing access to unique expertise and facilities in the fields of membrane seaparation processes and advanced surface technologies.

Background

Membrane and surface technologies are essential for answering many of the world’s current and future requirements. Indeed, these technologies have great relevance to Health and the Low Carbon Economy, two of the Key Priority Areas identified in the Welsh Assembly’s Science Policy as having exceptional opportunities for Wales.

There is a global water crisis that will not be simply restricted to conflict within the Middle East and Africa. Global warming will change the water management challenges within the UK and it is predicted that large swathes of the country will become drought ridden for extended periods within the next 10 years. (Select Committee on Science and Technology Eighth Report). The improvement of membrane technologies such as desalination and nanofiltration to answer these challenges has become imperative.

In addition, membrane separation processes continue to become more and more important in the manufacture of high value pharmaceuticals and medical devices for the improvement of the quality of life in the western world and the development of modern medical care in the third world.

With the growing emphasis on efficient waste management and sustainability, membrane technologies are also essential for the reduction of landfill with the removal of dangerous contaminants, the recycling of material resources and the novel use of municipal and industrial waste.

The increasing importance for membrane technologies is reflected in the global markets. In the US alone, the market for membranes used in separating and non separating applications is expected to reach $6.9 billion by the end of 2009. The global market for seawater and brackish water desalination increased from $1.7 billion in 2005 to $1.9 billion in 2007 and is set to reach $3.6 billion by 2012 (Source BCC research). In a more technological focus the emerging process of Nanofiltration is set to reach a global market size if $310.5 million by 2012 contributing to a market of established technology, ultrafiltraion that is in the US alone currently worth $635 million.

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