Scientists and innovation experts from The University of Manchester have worked together to successfully develop a new, market-ready technology using 2D materials that could be a game-changer for the water filtration sector.
Following an 18-month technical development and business planning program - funded by the University - the team of innovators has launched a spin-out company called Molymem Limited to help take the new membrane product into the marketplace. The technology has applications in the pharmaceutical, wastewater management and food and beverage sectors.
The breakthrough development of a high-performing membrane coating is based around a new class of 2D materials, pioneered by Manchester researchers Professor Rob Dryfe and Dr Mark Bissett, working with Clive Rowland, team leader for the Molymem project and the University’s Associate Vice-President for Intellectual Property.
Clive explained that membranes are used globally for separation applications in a wide range of valuable markets. “But all of these applications can be expensive,” he added. “They consume high energy and are prone to fouling - and, as a result, require frequent deep cleaning with corrosive chemicals. This causes lost production time and, due to the harsh nature of chemicals being used, it also leads to a deterioration in membrane quality over time.”
Using chemically modified molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), which is widely available at low cost and easily processed, Molymem has developed an energy-efficient and highly versatile membrane coating.
Much of the lab-to-market work was carried out at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), which is dedicated to the fast-tracking of pilot innovation around graphene and other 2D materials. Graphene is the world’s first man-made 2D material and offers a range of disruptive capabilities.
Molymem is now ideally placed to raise investment capital to embark on its commercial journey – and interest has already been shown by industrial partners.
James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester, said, “The Molymem project demonstrates how the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre can help to accelerate a breakthrough development in materials science into a brand-new, market-ready product.
“Molymem will now be mentored within the Graphene@Manchester innovation ecosystem as part our portfolio of graphene-based spin-outs. This includes bespoke support such as fundraising for future business development and rapid market development.”
Clive Rowland added, “Over the summer, I will hand-over the team leadership to Ray Gibbs, who is managing the University's graphene and 2D materials spin-out portfolio. Ray will look to fundraise and help take Molymem to the next stage of its exciting innovation journey.”