Membrane crystallization for water and mineral recovery
InfoStart date: 1 March, 2021 End date: 29 February, 2024 Project type: Research projects in countries with targeted development cooperation (earlier Window 2) Project code: 20-M01AAU Countries: South Africa Thematic areas: Natural resource management, Waste management, Water management and sanitation, Lead institution: Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark Partner institutions: University of Witwatersrand (WITS), South Africa Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT), South Africa Grundfos Holding A/S, Denmark Jasper Solar Farm, South Africa Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Cejna Quist-Jensen Total grant: 4,961,116 DKK
Sufficient water supply in South Africa is a huge problem and together with future risk of insufficient supply of other resources such as minerals, it emphasizes on improved research and development within these areas.
This project has three main drivers (i) supply shortage of water and critical elements (ii) turning waste streams into products under the logic of sustainable development and circular economy and (iii) comprehensive understanding of a novel crystallization process.
The outcome of the project is a ready-to-use system for simultaneous recovery of fresh water and selected minerals from waste streams with the long-term objective to provide an alternative solution for water and resource supply from untraditional sources (wastewaters). To accomplish this target, a team of two universities and three companies located both in Denmark and South Africa hascome together to solve current and future problems of water and resources supply. The universities includes Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark and University of Witwatersrand (WITS), South Africa, which both have a strong record in water and wastewater treatment. The three companies are (i) The Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT), South Africa, a municipal owned entity with treatment facilities of wastewater from various domestic and industrial origins, (ii) Jasper Solar Plant, South Africa, which is a photovoltaic power station that produces a very high brine concentration effluent and (iii) Grundfos Holding A/S, Denmark, which besides being a leader within pumping solutions, they also offer a range of water treatment solutions.
The South African company partners will deliver different waste streams and they will act as advisors for technology implementation at their existing plants. Grundfos are advisors on technology scale-up, economic and energetic feasibility of the process and further commercialization.
First year report
Sufficient water supply in South Africa is a huge problem and together with future risk of insufficient supply of other resources such as minerals, it emphasizes on improved research and development within these areas. During the first year of the project, we have analyzed more than seven wastewater streams in South Africa in order to evaluate the potential of fresh water and minerals recovery. In particular, we have tested synthetic wastewater from acid mine drainage, where we have found that we can recover 70-93% clean water using membrane crystallization and at the same time, we can recover calcium sulphate mineral. Moreover, we have tested commercial available membranes, but we have also produced our own membranes in the laboratories of Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark and University of Witwatersrand (WITS), South Africa. During the spring 2022, one postdoc and one master student from WITS visited AAU for tree months.