Titanium filters launched commercially in Australia
Adelaide-based Advanced Material Solutions (AMS) began commissioning its first commercial titanium filtration membranes last month.
The titanium membranes are robust, unaffected by salt or chemicals like chlorine and can be adjusted to screen out specific materials. With applications in a number of industries, the small company of 26 plans to expand its workforce to over 200 to cater for burgeoning global demand.
AMS Managing Director Gilbert Erskine said the membranes, which can extract solids up to 80%, were so strong that they could run 24 hours a day for a week. Polymeric (plastic) or ceramic filters, which have extraction limits of around 10%, could spend 30% of their time in cleaning modes. AMS’s Viti-flow membrane could be easily cleaned in minutes with steam or hot water up to 90ºC.
“We have the ability to change that micron and that comes down to the strength of the titanium because as you go up in pore size you are traditionally weakening the support structure, but titanium can withstand it,” Erskine said.
The systems are initially being aimed at the wine industry, where they have shown the potential to increase production by more than 7%.
They are scalable with the bigger units installed at major Australian wineries so far featuring four sets of membranes capable of filtering 35,000–40,000 L/h. They produce clean filtrate at less than 1 NTU. A commercial system has also already been installed at a meatworks in Victoria where the filters removed fats, oils, grease and blood cells, and reduced E. coli levels from 240,000 down to less than 20 parts/100 mL.
Erskine sees a number of future opportunities, including water management and defence, with submarines and frigates.
He explained that the experimentation and development process of the titanium membranes has been a long one as titanium is difficult to work with.
“Titanium is very expensive — it’s much more expensive than stainless steel, but due to its properties we’ve been able to make it much, much thinner and make the capillary size much smaller than traditional stainless steel so we’ve reduced the weight of the membrane and just by reducing that weight it compensates for the high-cost raw material.”
He also said he was confident the titanium membrane filters would be sold internationally, stating the company plans to open offices in South America, North America and Europe.
“The sky is the limit, the filtration market is absolutely enormous and even if we ended up with a very small percentage of that you’d be talking hundreds of employees.”
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