Are ceramic membranes ready to take their place yet?

The Singapore water sector prides itself on spotting a trend and then acting on it. They have not necessarily been the first adopter, but they have often been the first to identify a major market trend. The small island nation punches above its weight and is recognised in our industry as a global influencer. If Singapore acts, the prediction of a trend seems to become a self-fulfilling prophecy! Potable reuse is a case in point. Singapore became enthusiastic proponents and implemented schemes on a grand scale; similar schemes are now being implemented all over the world.

And Singapore is particularly focused on shining a spotlight on new trends in water membranes. Mega schemes for UF and MBR abound and the country has been quick to implement all of the successful membrane developments.

I am particularly interested therefore to note that ceramic membranes are being proposed for future projects in Singapore. The global water industry started to seriously consider membranes in the early 1990’s. Finding a barrier technology to replace sand filters was the target providing a guaranteed removal of micro-organisms including cryptosporidium and in some cases viruses. At the time, polymerics vied with ceramics, but polymerics won through since the membranes were easier to make and the resulting products were cheaper. Counterintuitively, the early ceramics for the water market were prone to integrity problems. However, those problems are now long past with modern commercial ceramic products providing both excellent integrity and a long life. However, they are still expensive. Does the additional membrane cost justify itself and provide a competitive whole life cost?

Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is planning a webinar on Wednesday 18th November to examine the latest status of ceramics. I will be providing a general introductory presentation on the advantages of ceramics at 1500 local time in Singapore (0700 for me!). This will be followed by two suppliers, Nanostone and PWN Technologies, who will be presenting their own products and describing performance and case studies.

The webinar will be held as part of a series of virtual events which have free registration and are designed to maintain momentum for the industry during the pandemic. The organisers are excited about the results of various testing programmes during the last few years and feel that ceramics are a technology whose time has come. I hope you will be able to join me at to look at the evidence. If the time zone does not work out for you, the webinars will be able to be accessed online after the event.