Once every three years the IMSTEC (International Membrane Science and Technology Conference) is organized in Australia. This year it was held at the Adelaide Converence Centre in Adelaide from 5th-9th December. Interesting was the large amount of presentations in the field of Forward Osmosis, despite the fact that this technique has barely proven itself on large scale. Most of the delegates agree that Forward Osmosis needs to be proven first on full-scale as a niche application before a big breakthrough for this technology can occur.
Another interesting topic is the development of new membranes for an improved performance targetting better capacity and/or increased selectivity. Specifically membranes based on nanomaterials, e.g. graphene(oxide), nanotubes and aquaporines, were the topic of many studies. It became crytal clear from an interesting keynote lecture presented by professor Menachem Elimelech (Yale University, US) that the future of membrane development is in improving the selectivity. New membranes with (only) a better capacity will not or barely result in energy savings in full-scale membrane installations.
The topic of our first KWR presentation was minimizing pre-treatment before reverse osmosis by applying periodical air/water cleaning and reducing membrane. This in order to develop a reverse osmosis concept using minimal pre-treatment which was carried out in the framework of the multi-source RO TKI-project. The second KWR presentation dealt with the selectivity of organic micropollutents during Forward Osmosis which is relevant when the forward osmosis is used for the reuse of wastewater.
Altogether, the IMSTEC was a very informative and succesful conference, with ample opportunity to interact with old and new membrane friends.