New Mexico Patent of the Month – July 2021

Spiral-wound elements are made of membranes, feed spacers, permeate spacers, and a permeate tube. The feed spacers provide space for water to flow between membrane surfaces and allow for uniform flow between the membrane leaves. While a necessary component, the feed spacer also causes some flow restriction and a pressure drop that contributes to membrane fouling and biological growth. Some alternative designs have been created, replacing the feed spacer with protrusions embossed on the membrane surface. Aqua Membranes LLC has improved upon this alternative design, creating a unique membrane.

The membrane they designed is made of two leafs, where each has an active surface with protrusions. The interference patterns appear as protrusions which are positioned against each other when lined up. When aligned, the protrusions create a space between the active surfaces of the two leafs. This design allows spacing for axial flow while minimizing obstruction within the flow channel, which ultimately means reduced pressure drop. This is achieved by careful designing at the inlet and outlet edges – Which maintains open spacing and allows for the spacing to be unaffected by folding. These interference patterns result in optimized performance for spiral-wound membranes. 

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