Aquaporin and biomimetic desalination

Introduction to biomimetics

Biomimetics or biomimicry is the mimicking of natural processes in engineered systems.  In terms of water treatment, this would involve understanding and emulating natural methods of water treatment.  Cells use forms of desalination to regulate their osmotic pressure.  One device used to do this is an aquaporin:

Introduction to aquaporins

Aquaporins in nature

Aquaporins are proteins contained in the membranes of bacteria, plant and animal cells.  They allow the passage of water across the cell while holding back ions and other solutes.  There are many different types found in nature.  Some are so selective to water molecules that they require the water molecule to flip as it passes through.

Aquaporin desalination

Aquaporin desalination uses aquaporins in a desalination membrane in a similar manner to nanotube desalination.  They can be used in both reverse osmosis (RO) and forward osmosis (FO) applications.

The advantages of aquaporins over carbon nanotubes is their perfect fit for water, which should result in rapid flux and total rejection of salt and other solutes.

Aquaporin membranes are not yet available at commercial scale.

How they work

We will be producing a video that explains how aquaporins work.  Please contact us if you would like us to email you when the video has been added to this page.