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Continuous flow production of glass bead- supported ion exchange membranes

adsorbent systemsionic exchangenanofiltrationSPEEKTrattamento acqueWater treatment


Technology for the continuous production of organic polymeric membranes anchored on glass spheres of variable dimensions, for the efficiently obtaining a ready-to-use fixed bed absorption systems, non-deformable over time. This system is useful in numerous industrial fields, preferably in water decontamination and / or purification processes. The anchoring of membranes on granular materials of different nature (ceramic, glass, anthracite, quartz) is proven and has the main advantage of increasing the surface area of ​​the membrane itself, giving rise to more efficient adsorption systems. In particular, the use of glass as an anchoring material is considered an economically advantageous method; glass is chemically inert and has considerable physical stability over a wide range of pressure conditions, as well as an important hydraulic performance. These characteristics allow the creation of efficient and long-lasting systems.

Technical features

The invention refers to the production of ready-to-use cartridges made from glass beads of varying diameter coated with cross-linked poly (ether ether ketone) sulfonate (SPEEK) type ion exchange membranes. More specifically, it is foresees the production in continuous mode of  the following processes: (i) coating of the glass beads with an ion exchange membrane, (ii) cross-linking of the membrane in situ with dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), which is classified non-toxic under the relevant legislation on chemical substances (iii) fine control of the porosity of the system by an inert gas (iv) washing and (v) drying.

Integrated analytical techniques demonstrate the markedly superior homogeneity of the “coating” through continuous flow compared to that obtained by a batch process, which represents the state-of-the-art. Further improvements are operational costs and times shortage, minimization of material loss, limited exposure of the worker to reagents/solvents.

Possible Applications

  • Combined processes envisaging 1) pre-treatment for the removal of dispersed colloids, and (2) nanofiltration of industrial, marine and brackish wastewater;
  • Water potabilization.


  • Ready-to-use cartridges, based on a combination of low-cost/durable materials, with a high operational efficiency and resistance;
  • Tailor-made adsorption systems, including composites;
  • “All-in-one” modular, safe, highly controllable production system; automation is possible;
  • Use of safe chemicals.