Membrion™ is at the forefront of some of the world’s most challenging problems: clean water, global electrification and human health. The emerging technologies designed to revolutionize these fields all depend on filtering charged molecules, called ions. The need for low cost/high performance ion filters has never been stronger or more urgent.
One only has to look at California to see the potential impact of ion filters on drinking and agricultural water supplies. With annual snowpack deletion and persistent drought fueled by climate change, California (and many other parts of the world) faces fresh water crisis. One of the most viable solutions to this challenge is to purify brackish water through electrodialysis. While the state has 38 times more brackish water than fresh water supplies, and while electrodialysis is less costly than older technologies like reverse osmosis, existing expensive and low performance ion filters have prevented electrodialysis from being widely adopted. Membrion’s low cost/high performance membranes will enable dramatically lower cost solutions to produce potable water for agriculture and urban usage, all while using less energy and creating less waste than existing solutions today.
Ion filters are also at the heart of the burgeoning urban mobility market which is moving towards low cost, electric-powered solutions that are available on-demand. Each of these new solutions, from the scooter to the bike to the car, rely on Li-ion or other batteries today, or fuel cells tomorrow. In both cases, the word will need efficient and effective ion filters to expand beyond the capacity of today’s solutions.
This need is not isolated to transportation. California is the 5th largest economy in the world and is moving to 100% renewable energy by 2045, and some of the world’s largest and most admired brands, including Google, Ikea, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike, GM and Lego among many others, have also committed to 100% renewable energy. Energy storage is key to that success and new low cost/high performance ion filters are the limiting factor for today’s generation of flow batteries, the most promising grid scale-storage solution.
It’s hard to believe that such small molecules have such a big impact on the world’s future, but they do. Our efforts to bring a unique ion filter to market can materially accelerate a variety of new technologies to improve the lives of humans today and protect the future health of our planet.
Membrion's technology was developed at the University of Washington by Prof. Lilo Pozzo & Dr. Greg Newbloom. Lilo and Greg have invented numerous technologies together and were committed to thinking differently about membranes from the start. Dr. Newbloom recalls, "Everyone is working on new plastic membranes and it would have taken us a long time to catch up. Instead, we just started brainstorming what a membrane really needed to accomplish. It gave us the opportunity to think really differently." After more than a year of modestly successful prototypes, they started exploring membranes based on silica gel, commonly used as a desiccant in food packaging. As it turns out, it's not just good for keeping your jerky dry! The team now has 10 pending/awarded patents and products in development for water and battery applications. Since 2016, the team has expanded from 2 to 10 and is now fully independent from the UW!
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