VITO and UAntwerp transfer expertise in spin-off A-membranes.

Today, product separations are often energy-intensive and not always optimised for efficiency. With their latest spin-off, A-membranes, VITO and the University of Antwerp are bringing an advanced technology for membrane separations in liquids onto the market that is not only much more efficient, but also low in energy and sustainable, plus can significantly reduce the chemical industry's CO2 emissions.

Sustainable alternative

"Our technology excels in its robustness in difficult chemical conditions, such as high temperatures or organic solvents. By responding to the right combination of membrane and the appropriate organic layer, A-membranes can propose membrane filtration solutions that were not possible until recently," explains Bart Coen, the CEO of the new company. "Our membrane technology, thanks to its robustness and adjustability, has great potential to treat various chemical process streams."

"Energy-intensive thermal product separations such as distillation and evaporation account today for some 40% of the total industrial energy consumption. This is 12% to 14% of the global energy consumption. Membrane separations typically require only 10% to 30% of the energy consumption of such thermal processes and thus represent a low-energy and sustainable alternative, with strong CO2 reduction potential. A-membranes can therefore contribute to reducing the CO2 emissions of the chemical industry."

Lower costs

Today, membrane technology is already widely used in the water and food industries. Even in applications where membrane technology is already used today, A-membranes can offer added value. A selected organic surface layer can strongly improve the efficiency of a filtration process by repelling products that block the membranes. The increased efficiency allows the process to be carried out with a smaller, less expensive installation and lower operating costs. 

"I am particularly pleased that VITO, together with colleagues from the University of Antwerp and entrepreneur Bart Coen, is bringing the spin-off A-membranes to the market," says Bruno Reyntjens, commercial director of VITO. "A-membranes is the result of years of experience and development in membrane technology. At VITO we are convinced that these chemically modified ceramic membranes will contribute to making many filtration and purification operations less process-intensive. In this way, this spin-off will help the industry on its way to sustainability."

Open innovation hub

Silvia Lenaerts, Vice Rector for Valorisation and Development at the University of Antwerp: "A-membranes fits completely within our valorisation domain around sustainable chemistry and materials. Thanks to a multidisciplinary cooperation between different research institutions we can now bring this sustainable technology to the market. We have supported our researchers by bringing them into contact with an experienced entrepreneur, Bart Coen. 

We therefore look forward to continuing to work with him and his team within our open innovation hub around sustainable chemistry, BlueApp.”

An example of how A-membranes are making a difference can be found here.

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