University of South Africa
Overview of innovation

The invention relates to the design of a robust membrane for desalination using membrane distillation (MD). Although MD technology has advanced over the years, its industrial application for the treatment of brackish water and seawater is still lagging. This invention exhibits advantages over the well-known pressure-driven membrane processes, as desalination is achieved operating at low temperature and low pressure, and with less membrane fouling. This membrane is designed with a unique structural morphology with high hydrophobicity and porosity, allowing the membranes to achieve up to 80% water recovery. The membranes are resistant to fouling, which therefore ensures long-term operation without significant performance deterioration; this, in turn, reduces the cost associated with the replacement of membranes.

While measures such as water conservation, repairing of infrastructure, catchment and distribution processes have been put in place to mitigate water shortages, existing water sources nevertheless seem to present a viable long-term solution, potentially increasing the sources from which water can be obtained. This has therefore presented a wide range of solutions in the treatment of seawater. Desalination processes provide an opportunity to produce large quantities of clean water.

Type of Intellectual Property protection
Innovation Opportunity Type
Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
Technology Readiness Level
TRL 2 – Practical application identified