Any process evolution can only be based on an in-depth understanding of the issues that drive it, and the choices that can be made as a result. Industrial and scientific issues are complex and multifaceted. In this context, most of our research activities are carried out in partnership with an industrial partner, as part of a collaborative research contract. Based on an idea developed in the laboratory or an industrial problem, the aim is to work within a realistic framework of operating variables. Research activities are devoted to transferring them to the industrial world, where scientific, economic and confidentiality requirements interfere. Its activities are growing rapidly and cover a wide spectrum: from the design of new membranes and modules to the development and installation of new industrial membrane processes.
In the field of membranes, numerical simulation is used to perfectly define hydrodynamics in membranes and associated modules. For the hydrodynamic part only, commercial Fluent codes are used. The studies are relatively comprehensive, since in addition to hydraulic constraints (inlet pressures and velocities), the permeabilities of the skin and porous matrix on the one hand, and the geometry (size and shape) of the channels and monoliths (ceramic membranes) on the other, are studied to take into account their effects on shear stress and filtration flow. Experiments are used to validate these simulations, which can then be used to predict water flows and limit prototyping. The manufacture of industrial prototypes is thus targeted, reducing their number and facilitating the experimental validation phase. The EPM test platform
comprises some thirty filtration pilots with filter surfaces ranging from 0.25 m² to 120 m². The special feature of these pilots is their use of industrial membranes, which, when scaled up, enable equipment and operating costs to be estimated to within 10%. Thanks to this approach, a number of industrial plants have already been installed.