SELf-cleaning ceramic membranes for Water and Agro-food by-products processing based on innovative materials and construction strategies

Principal Investigator: Pietro Galizia
Involved personnel: Elisa Mercadelli, Carlo Baldisserri, Davide Gardini
Starting date: 04/09/2023
Duration: 24 months
Total cost: 345 280,00 €
Total funding: 208 480,00 €
CNR Role: Coordinator
Project Coordinator: Pietro Galizia (CNR-ISSMC)
Consorzio: CNR-ITM; CNR-ISM; Politecnico di Milano

This project aims at contributing a breakthrough in the membrane technology by developing new porous piezoelectric ceramic structures with efficient antifouling technology to be applied as membranes for microfiltration of fluids required for water and/or agro-food wastewater treatment. The objective of the improvement of antifouling properties will be achieved by optimizing the architecture and exploiting the piezoelectric effect—namely the possibility of setting the membranes in vibration by applying an alternate electric field—, while assuring non-toxicity, high piezoelectric performances, strength against corrosive environments and long-term selectivity and productivity with high feed concentration. Ceramic membranes structures based on piezoelectric materials can generate ultrasound from within during filtration to prevent fouling. They are based on the piezoelectric effect, which converts electrical field into mechanical vibration. Challenging issues are faced following an interdisciplinary approach applied to:

(i) design the membrane architectures and their fabrication processes to produce lead-free piezoelectric materials and membranes with engineered microstructures tailored for microfiltration;

(ii) test the ceramic membranes in relevant environments to study their performances in terms of productivity, selectivity and fouling index at different working set up (e.g. type of feed and magnitude and frequency of applied voltage);

(iii) study the influence of the porosity anisotropy and morphology on the piezoelectric properties and the involved chemo physical phenomena that affect the membrane performances.

These targets require innovative manufacturing processes of materials, and dedicated testing on a prototypal system. The goal is addressed by two teams coordinated by young researchers, supported by more experienced ones with complementary synergic competencies and equipment (advanced ceramic and 3D-printing processing, membrane technology, microstructural, mechanical and piezoelectric characterization) and with consolidated international reputation.