This device could help clean the world’s drinking water, one filter cartridge at a time

Dr Quanxiang (Sulley) Li.

Key facts

  • A novel water filtration cartridge is set to make water cleaner and safer, thanks to a partnership between Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) and China-based company Filtertech.
  • The device can be integrated into water bottles, water purifiers, filters and coffee machines.
  • With an annual market entry of over 50,000 filter cartridges, the Filtertech device is poised to revolutionise water filtration for the better.

A groundbreaking, cost-effective and sustainable water filtration device has been developed by Deakin University scientists using cutting-edge composite membrane material.

The filter cartridge, which can be integrated into water bottles, water purifiers, filters and coffee machines, is now rolling off the production line in Xiamen, China after it was designed in Australia by Dr Sulley (Quanxiang) Li and Professor Minoo Naebe from Deakin’s IFM.


Making clean drinking water a reality

With the demand for filtered water increasing in recent years, manufacturers are looking for ways to improve filtration of chemicals and bacteria, while reducing their environmental footprint. The new product has made its way from the lab and into households following a deal between IFM and China-based company Filtertech.

Water can contain dirt, minerals, chemicals, bacteria and mould, impacting smell, taste and potentially endanger health, especially when microscopic organisms and bacteria grow that can cause serious illness, like E.coli, fungal spores and bacteriophage.

Water pollution remains a severe global challenge. Consequently, the need to improve water quality and ensure the safety of drinking water is becoming increasingly urgent.

Most water filters on the market remove bacteria, viruses, spores, and cysts through nanofiltration or reverse osmosis membrane technology. However, those methods require high water pressure and result in a low flow rate and a large amount of wastewater in the filtration process.

Lead researcher Dr Li says the new device efficiently intercepts bacteria and viruses in drinking water using the principle of charge adsorption.

‘Charge adsorption – using positively charged materials ­– has gained a lot of attention in the industry as the process can solve many of the issues that we see with ultrafiltration membranes,’ Dr Li says.

‘However, the current production process for positively charged filters is complex and expensive, and their performance is limited.

‘That’s why I’ve conducted a great deal of research on the preparation of new and more effective material for water filtration and signed a long-term cooperative project with industry partner, the Runner Group’s Xiamen Filtertech Industrial Corporation, to bring it to life.’

The cutting-edge composite membrane filter cartridge can be integrated into water bottles, water purifiers, filters and coffee machines.

A win for water purification and the environment

‘By reducing water pressure requirements, minimising wastewater generation, and offering cost-effective, long-lasting filtration solutions, this technology is not only a game-changer in water filtration but also a win for the environment,’ says Professor Minoo Naebe.

‘It addresses the increasing need for safe, clean water while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint associated with water treatment processes.’

The launch of Dr Li’s innovative product has created a sensation in the water treatment field, offering a more convenient, efficient, and sustainable water purification solution worldwide.

Professor Minoo Naebe

Using a novel process, Dr Li also redesigned the internal structure of the composite filter membrane. Drawing on his extensive expertise in porous carbon materials, composite materials and nanomaterials, he successfully introduced groundbreaking technologies that govern the flow and interaction of water within the membrane.

‘The charged composite membrane I developed combines multiple processes – physical adsorption, charge adsorption, multiscale pore interception, and functional group complexation – to create a product that excels at intercepting chemicals and bacteria,’ explains Dr Li.

‘It efficiently filters out large particle impurities, residual chlorine, heavy metals like lead, and retains beneficial mineral elements in water. Not only does it fulfill consumers’ functional needs, but it is also more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable to produce.’

Partnering for practical water solutions

With an annual market entry of over 50,000 filter cartridges, the Filtertech device is poised to revolutionise water filtration for the better.

Mr Joe Chen, Chairman of Runner Group, said the device reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability and innovation.

This innovative water filtration product not only enhances our company’s product portfolio but also strengthens our competitive advantage in the market. Our collaboration with Deakin University serves as a benchmark in the industry, offering a successful model for translating research achievements into practical solutions.

Mr Joe Chen, Chairman of Runner Group

The device recently underwent rigorous health and safety testing according to NSF/ANSI 42&58&372 standards, demonstrating over 99.9999% effectiveness in filtering E.coli after processing six tonnes of tap water. It achieved a 100% removal rate for cysts and spores and intercepted more than 99% of bacteriophage MS2 throughout its entire service life cycle.

Importantly, the device maintained high performance without degradation, operated without requiring excess water pressure and generated no wastewater.


This article was first published by Deakin News. Read the original article.