Downcycling Opportunities For Reverse Osmosis Membranes


Our project aims to tackle the issue of reverse-osmosis (RO) membrane waste. RO membranes are integral to water purification as they possess selective permeability, which can allow clean water to pass while capturing specific contaminants. However, their typical disposal pathway contributes to the increasing global amount of solid waste. This project aligns with existing literature on waste reduction and resource sustainability in the water treatment sector. Previous studies have explored various methods for repurposing waste materials. To address these issues, we propose downcycling RO membrane components into microfiltration (MF) filters, extending their useful life beyond the typical outcome of landfill disposal and/or incineration. Both of these disposal methods have negative implications for the environment over time, including increased emissions and loss of resource potential. Key results from our project include the potential to significantly reduce RO membrane waste and find greater usage for specific membrane components, including membrane sheets. By repurposing membrane components and implementing MF filters, a more circular and sustainable economy can be obtained. The implications of our results extend beyond waste reduction and resource management as they underscore the importance of innovative approaches in addressing environmental challenges and advancing toward a more sustainable future.



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