Interview: Evove’s Use of 3D Printing for Precision Filtration Membranes



Sam Davies

28 December 2023



During an episode of the Additive Insight podcast held in May 2023, we got the opportunity to visit the main offices of Evove. Evove is a UK-oriented firm that harnesses the power of 3D printing to make precise filtration membranes.

The company is currently crafting its unique binder jet 3D printing system. Their plan is to enlarge this system for creating enhanced membrane technologies in bulk. They aim to cater to sectors such as desalination, drinking water, eco-friendly hydrogen, and food and beverage markets.

Chris Wyres, the CEO of Evove, and Richard Finch, the Senior AM Engineer, provided some insight on the importance of 3D printing and computational fluid dynamics in the process of creating their membrane products.

Chris Wyres stated that the company has two main technological platforms. Their Enhance product range essentially improves the functioning of currently available membranes. This category involves graphene oxide coatings, which is what the firm was originally based upon. They make use of 3D printing for the production of Spacers which are then placed between layers of membranes to regulate fluid flow. Finally, inserts which are designed in a spiral shape are fitted into tubular membranes for overlapping fluid dynamics. These can retrofit existing membranes and can bring about a massive rise in performance – from double the selectivity, to five times the throughput, to an 80% decrease in energy consumption for processing a given volume of fluids.

The second range of products we refer to as Separonics are entirely 3D printed membranes that we’ve meticulously engineered for a specific purpose. Indeed, Separonics is where it all began. To move this programme forward, we specifically assembled a team.

RF: Separonics functions through a reactive binder jet process. Contrastingly, we print a reactive binder instead of printing a polymer binder in a conventional way. We’re printing ceramic on ceramic. It’s filled with particles that fill the gaps within the powder bed, thanks to the binder. As a result, we get not only a denser green part, but also a reduced thermal budget for sintering, which improves the process’s commercial viability. Furthermore, it reduces the time for post-processing, making it highly commercially viable.

RF: Especially with the spacers, we can adjust the features down to tens of microns, which will result in a substantial performance increase. We’ve managed to shift to a high throughput process with additive manufacturing. We’ve not only been able to enhance performance, but we’ve also been able to modify it to make it specific to a customer’s applications in comparison to a conventional spacer or mesh structure. We’re significantly ahead.

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CW: And if we look at one of our big applications for this in desalination, we’re able to reduce the energy consumption in the desalination process by up to 30%, and given that there’s an increasing requirement globally for desalination, this could have a really big impact.

RF: So if we go to conventional spaces, they are basically a filament that is extruded and there is no other feature for that than just to provide a flow channel between two membrane sheets. We’ve got a very talented CFD engineer who’s looked into how we can model these existing spacers and he’s identified areas where we can improve. So, we’re printing hydrofoils onto the spacers that improve the flow [and] reduce the pressure drop across the membrane.

And we’re talking about struts, these hydrofoils are about 200 microns tall, with a curve profile that can actually guide the flow through it. We’ve then spent several months correlating what we get with the CFD performance, the printing performance, and then our CFD model can then influence what we’re printing.

CW: And that whole generative design process has really accelerated our time to final product. We’re busy investing now and scaling that technology.

by Sam Davies

28 December 2023


Original source


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