Home » Mintek Unveils Water Purification Membrane to Combat Pollution

Mintek Unveils Water Purification Membrane to Combat Pollution

by Adenike Adeodun

Mintek, South Africa’s leading mineral research organization, has announced the release of its NICMeR membrane, a product of its collaboration with the Department of Science and Innovation’s Nanotechnology Innovation Centre (NIC). This cutting-edge low-fouling ultrafiltration membrane is now available on the market, designed to combat the detrimental effects of harmful metal concentrations found in mine-impacted water.

According to a report by Mining Weekly, its versatility extends to treating industrial and domestic wastewater, opening the door to potential reuse opportunities.

The NICMeR technology significantly purifies raw water, stripping it of particulates and pathogens to achieve potable standards and enhance water quality. This development emerges as a solution to a longstanding issue—the contamination of South African water resources by mining activities, which has been a pressing concern for decades.

Mining operations, both abandoned and active, release harmful metals and sulphates into water bodies, presenting ongoing environmental and public health hazards. These issues have escalated following widespread mine closures starting in the 1970s, underscoring the necessity for effective, sustainable interventions.

Dr. Keneiloe Sikhwivhilu, Mintek’s chief scientist, underscores the gravity of the situation: “Mining’s enduring legacy demands urgent and significant action. The NICMeR membrane not only ensures steady water quality but also serves as an independent system. This allows its benefits to reach beyond mining sites, providing purified water even in the most isolated regions.”

The NICMeR boasts a low-fouling design, allowing it to resist the buildup of undesirable substances and maintain its efficacy over time. In treating water affected by mining, the low-fouling aspect is crucial due to the high levels of pollutants that can accumulate on the membrane, Sikhwivhilu explains.

Dr. Molefi Motuku, CEO of Mintek, relates the project back to Mintek’s core responsibilities, highlighting their commitment to advancing technologies that promote the conservation and reuse of water—a precious and limited resource.

“Our dedication to water treatment technology emphasizes the critical nature of water reuse. These innovative measures align Mintek with our national goal to tackle societal challenges and help build a sustainable and thriving South Africa,” Motuku states.

“Adopting these technologies is not just a benefit—it’s a forward-thinking step towards a resilient and eco-friendly future. We’re committed to partnering with industry leaders to demonstrate the practical impact of our solutions and encourage their broad adoption,” he adds.

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