Water-Tight Composite Membranes

Via a novel method, utilizing perforable two-dimensional platelets on porous substrates

Tech ID: W-16-025


Nanocomposite materials and its fabrication process present unique features that potentially enable water filtration by nano and/ or sub-nanopore-based membranes. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a purification process that utilizes this type of permeable membrane to remove ions, molecules and larger particles from water. The most important and by far the largest application of RO is the separation of pure water from seawater (desalination) and brackish waters. In these applications, water is pressurized against one surface of the membrane causing the transport of salt depleted water across the membrane and emergence of potable drinking water from the low-pressure side- removing both harmful contaminants present in the water, as well as some desirable minerals.

The energetic cost of purifying water by reverse osmosis (RO) is determined by the differential pressure (typically ~100 kPa) required at these two faces of a porous membrane traversed by water. Therefore, RO membranes operating at lower differential pressures are in tremendous demand for making pure water a readily available resource in many parts of the world. Thinner membranes are vital to decreasing the operating pressure of RO processes at a given water flow, hence, graphene-based and other two-dimensional materials have been identified as the ideal alternatives to existing RO membrane materials.

Description of the invention

Researchers at Western University utilizing a unique method to fabricate a water-tight membrane out of sealed two-dimensional graphene flakes on a porous substrate.  The resulting large-area, thin membrane enables water purification by reverse osmosis at very low differential pressures (down to 30 kPa).


  • Thin membrane produced from a single sheet of porous two-dimensional graphene material to achieve water filtration by pore-size rejection.
  • Allows for very low differential pressures (down to 30 kPa), compared to 200-1,000 kPa in state-of the art RO methods


  • The composite membrane fabricated through this method would have application in desalination, deionization, or other industrial separation processes

IP Status

  • Patent protected (US and Canada)


  • Commercial partner
  • Licensing
  • Development partner

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