Adrian Brozell’s graduate work was at the intersection of interfacial science, surface functionalization, surface grafting, self-assembled monolayers, lipid bilayers, ion channels and sol gel chemistry. His investigations were towards the development of lab on a chip technology for therapeutic discovery. After completion of his PhD, Adrian Brozell was bio-inspired! He started zNano to use his knowledge to develop bioinspired materials for environmental science.

zNano’s technology roadmap quickly began to focus on bioinspired material science to improve water treatment membranes: microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF), reverse osmosis (RO), and forward osmosis (FO). In 2011, zNano supplying bioinspired forward osmosis (FO) membranes into a collaboration with NASA AMES. By 2014, zNano published a data set demonstrating how surface grafting using bioinspired zNano technology can increase the intrinsic permeability of ultrafiltration (UF) membranes. In addition, it can protect both ultrafiltration (UF) and microfiltration (MF) membranes against fouling from organics. In 2016, zNano began manufacturing bioinspired coatings on thin film composite nanofiltration (NF) membranes. To date, zNano has shipped 30,000 sq. meters of zNano bioinspired coated thin film composite nanofiltration membrane.

zNano Bio-Inspiration Becomes Bioinspired Coating for Water Treatment Membrane:

  • Bioinspired Coating for Water Treatment Membranes
    • Ultrafiltration (UF), Nanofiltration (NF), and Reverse Osmosis
    • Increases permeability
    • Decreases fouling
    • Stable: pH 2 – 12
    • Stable: 5,000 ppm of detergent

zNano’s bioinspired water treatment membrane coating increases permeability and decreases fouling for ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. These features differentiate zNano’s bioinspired coating from other antifouling coatings which decrease both permeability and fouling. The coating allows membrane manufacturers to compete in the global for membrane manufacturing market. zNano’s surface grafting technology stabilizes the coating when cleaning the membrane using solutions from pH 2 to pH 12 and when using solutions containing 5,000 ppm of detergent.

zNano Contract Manufacturing Capabilities: Surface Grafting

  • Surface Grafting to Plastics
    • roll to roll grafting
    • non-planar shape, such a fibers, grafting
  • Repurposing porous plastic materials
    • into functional materials
    • aqueous separation applications
    • solute capture applications

Surface grafting enables plastic materials to have functionality that differs from the bulk material. zNano can graft functional moieties to the material surface using in house roll to roll grafting capabilities. Additionally, zNano can graft functional moieties to non-planar shapes, such a fibers, grafting.

zNano’s surface functionalization enables customers to find additional applications for existing material manufacturing equipment, unlike blended membrane technology which uses additives at the time of membrane casting. For example, zNano’s manufacturing capabilities allow for the conversion of porous plastics into a water treatment material. zNano’s prices are competitive with the low cost requirements of the global membrane market.

zNano Future Possibilities: Bioinspired Membranes

zNano’s bioinspired coating technology and capabilities could be enabling to manufacturing bioinspired membranes into the global water treatment market. Lipid membranes are well known to incorporate integral membrane proteins such as Aquaporin. In the future, zNano may be able to integrate Aquaporins and/or comparable proteins to enable next generation reverse osmosis membranes.

zNano’s bioinspired coating technology and capabilities could be enabling to manufacturing bioinspired membranes outside of the global water treatment market: carbon capture. Bioinspired materials have been demonstrated to fabricate carbon separation membranes that can operate at room temperature and pressure. These materials use material science technology similar to zNano’s bioinspired material science, and a commercially available protein, Carbonic Anhydrase. In the future, zNano may be able to integrate Carbonic Anhydrase and/or comparable proteins to enable next generation reverse osmosis membranes.

See zNano Related Patents and Patent Applications

zNano’s Related Publications

2018 REFERENCE: “Synthetic Biological Membrane Forward Osmosis Trade Study” Michael Flynn, Jaione Romerio, Jurek Parodi, Rocco Mancinaelli, Hali Shaw, Adrian Brozell, Simone Tatum, Abdelrahman Budair. 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems. 8-12 July 2018, Albuquerque, New Mexico

2016 REFERENCE: “Testing of synthetic biological membranes for forward osmosis applications” Jurek Parodi, Jaione Romero Mangado, Ofir Stefanson, Michael Flynn, Rocco Mancinelli, Brian Kawashima, Serina Treu, Adrian Brozell, Kevan Rosenberg. 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems. 10-14 July 2016, Vienna, Austria

2016 REFERENCE: “Synthetic Biological Membrane” Michael Flynn, David Loftus, Richard Wisnewski, Jeffery Lee, Jaione Romero Mangado, Jurek Parodi, Ofir Stefanson, Rocco Mancinelli, Brian Kawashima, Michael Dougherty, Adrian Brozell, Kevan Rosenberg, Serina Treu, Kassidy Peirce, Tess Rogers, Kristen McLean. 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems. 10-14 July 2016, Vienna, Austria

2014 REFERENCE: “Biomimetic Membrane Coatings for >2x higher flux wastewater treatment using Forward Osmosis, Microfiltration and Ultrafiltration” Abed-Amoli A, McKenzie E, Kamiya T, Richardson TJ, Flynn MT, Berliner A, and Brozell AM. AMTA 2014 Membrane Technology Conference & Expo.

2013 REFERENCE: “zNano Forward Osmosis Membrane for Wastewater Treatment Processes” Kamiya T, Richardson TJ, Flynn MT, Berliner A, and Brozell AM, and Abed-Amoli A. 43rd International Conference on Environmental Systems. 14–18 July 2013 Vail Marriott Vail, Colorado