Micro- and Nanocomposite Support Structures for Reverse Osmosis Thin Film Membranes

Tech ID: 29899 / UC Case 2007-187-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have invented a novel nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) composite membrane for water desalination applications.


With increasing water scarcity and high water demand associated with agriculture, power, and oil & gas industries, obtaining freshwater will be a real challenge in the future. Water desalination, or treatment of brackish and ocean waters, is one of the most promising solutions to this problem. Largely untapped brackish and ocean waters can be treated by membrane desalination via a NF and RO membrane process. However, the high operating costs, which stem from high operating pressures (and energy demand), limit widespread application of this technology. Another limiting issue is internal membrane surface fouling, or buildup of materials on the membrane, which necessitates even higher pressures and can irreversibly damage the filtration membranes internally through physical compaction.


Researchers led by Professor Eric Hoek have developed a novel compaction resistant thin film nanocomposite membrane for desalination and water purification applications. This technology is advantageous, as the membranes show an improved mechanical strength and can resist long term compaction from the elevated operating pressures required to overcome surface fouling and scaling when subjected to elevated RO/NF operating pressures. This innovative nanocomposite membrane experiences 50% less permeability loss relative to conventional membranes at operating pressures up to 500 psi. After compaction, the thin film nanocomposites maintain their original structure and permeability, which significantly reduces the long-term, overall cost of desalination due to the lower energy requirement of this material.


  • Economical water desalination
  • Ocean water and brackish water desalination
  • Reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membranes
  • Water purification


  • More economical and cheaper water desalination process
  • Requires less pressure and less energy
  • Nanocomposite material with superior mechanical strength
  • Compaction resistant material

State Of Development

A prototype has been developed and extensively tested, and thus far has shown excellent results.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
Australia Issued Patent 2007317516 07/15/2013 2007-187
United States Of America Issued Patent 8,029,857 10/04/2011 2007-187


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  • Hoek, Eric MV.

Other Information


Nanocomposite, microcomposite, thin films, nanofiltration, NF, reverse osmosis, RO, thin film membranes, composite membranes, membranes, water purification, desalination, brackish water, ocean water

Categorized As