Making a splash in 3D printing

NTU’s water technology start-up Nano Sun has opened a 3D-printing facility to manufacture nanofibre-based water treatment membranes.

Unlike conventional membrane-manufacturing processes, which use more than ten different chemicals including toxic solvents to make polymers porous, Nano Sun’s 3D-printing process layers millions of nanofibres on top of one another, compressing them into a thin membrane with high breakage resistance.

Invented by Nano Sun’s founder, Assoc Prof Darren Sun from NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the membrane is not only highly efficient at antifouling, but also demonstrates high hydrophilicity. This means that large volumes of water can be treated at a fraction of the time, space and costs, allowing for smaller and cheaper water treatment plants.

The first customers to use the 3D-printed next-generation membranes for wastewater cleaning are the two largest semiconductor multinational companies in Singapore; a new municipal wastewater treatment plant in China that has the capacity to treat up to 20 million litres of water per day; and plants in the Philippines and Indonesia.

This article appeared first in NTU’s research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #14, December 2018).

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