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With the support from the NSF and USDA, 2W iTech LLC utilizes its nanotechnology platform and is engaged in the following R&D activities:



1. Reverse Osmosis Membrane Desalination


Water supplies are becoming under stress in many areas of the world. Securing a supply of fresh water to meet the needs of population growth and increased industrialization is a global challenge. People already use over 50% of the world’s accessible fresh water and will use 75% by 2025. The continuous rise in infrastructure and rapid industrialization has resulted in increased polluted water sources in countries such as India and China. For water purification and seawater desalination, high flux RO membranes would enable low cost production of clean water.  The global reverse osmosis membrane (RO) market, in terms of value, is projected to reach USD 2.09 Billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 8.5% from 2016 to 2021. High-growth application areas such as sea water desalination systems, RO purification systems, and the stringent regulations due to increased concern over safe drinking water are key factors driving the growth of the global RO market. 

2W iTech LLC is developing a commercially viable nano-assembly approach to fabricate thin film nanocomposite (TFN) reverse osmosis (RO) membranes with more process control. The developed approach allows fabrication of highly cross-linked polyamide (PA) nanocomposite membranes with nanometer control over the film thickness, minimal roughness, uniform nanoparticle distribution, and defined local chemical and polymer composition. Compared with traditional reverse osmosis PA membranes, significant benefits can be expected from the proposed membrane including 2 to 3 times improvement in water flux, lower driving pressure, and less fouling and ease for cleaning.




2. Water contamination monitoring


Currently water contamination detection utilizes gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography–mass spectrophotometry (GC/MS), high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), liquid-chromatography mass spectrophotometry (LC/MS), and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Although all of these methods have shown sufficient sensitivity and specificity, most of them require large and expensive equipment, and often involve a complex and time-consuming separation/preconcentration step, making them unsuitable for measurement of water contaminants in the field. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the development of new field-portable devices for rapid, sensitive, reliable and cost-effective identification and quantification of water contaminants in groundwater and drinking water.  

In this program, 2WiTech LLC is developing and commercializing a platform sensing technology for fast field trace detection of contaminants in water. The core part of this technology is a photonic based sensing chip with specially designed binding sites, which can selectively respond to the contaminant molecules in water. The proposed sensor will possess the following advanced attributes: high sensitivity, high specificity, fieldability, fast detection, ease of operation, and low operation cost.