Technology

Building the Aquaporin Inside® Technology Triad 

Aquaporin Inside® core technology breaks away from conventional water technologies by adding an extra layer of complexity: biology. The introduction of aquaporin proteins as a novel component in the membrane system demanded not only a deep understanding of the aquaporin protein itself but also an understanding of the other two components: chemistry and physics, and their interaction as a triad. In this blog post, experts from Aquaporin delve deeper into how biomimetic membrane design ensures harmonious interoperation between its layers. 

The Aquaporin Protein  

Natural aquaporin proteins are extremely efficient; millions of years of evolution have optimized them to function as the best water transport channels. 

“Our task is focused on producing aquaporins on an industrial scale and refining protein purification methods, which are integral parts of the innovation process for next-generation membranes."

Sara Boje Goldschmidt, Biomimicry Development Scientist 

Once we have obtained the pure aquaporin protein, it marks the initial integration between biology and chemistry, utilizing organic chemistry as the vehicle to merge expertise between the two disciplines. The aquaporin proteins are incorporated into membranes by protein carriers, vesicles designed to protect the proteins while ensuring their functionality. 

“These carriers mimic the cellular lipid bilayer, providing the essential physicochemical environment for membrane proteins to be embedded. By optimizing these protein-incorporating carriers, we can enhance the performance of the membranes.” – Karolis Norinkevicius, Formulation Specialist 

The Polyamide Layer  

Chemically speaking, the key compound is the polyamide layer. This layer can be visualized as a thin film that provides the membrane with its initial selectivity. 

"The polyamide layer acts as a semi-permeable barrier, which in principle allows only water to pass through and everything else is retained on the membrane when high pressure is applied. In reality, the picture is more complex, and by optimizing the formulas that comprise this layer, we can fine-tune the separation properties of our membranes to target specific applications."

Libor Zverina, Formulation Specialist at Aquaporin

Enhancing the efficiency of the polyamide layer is a primary objective in the conventional development of water filtration membranes, and it is equally important at Aquaporin. Furthermore, aquaporin proteins will create a molecular highway that will allow only water to pass through this layer, reducing the pressure requirement, and therefore unlocking many new benefits and applications, such as reducing energy consumption or preserving key products. 

Customized Support Layer 

Finally, physics is required to ensure that the Aquaporin Inside® technology gets the optimal operation conditions in terms of flow, pressure, temperature, etc.  

"Mechanical support plays a crucial role, and our focus on creating a customized support layer aims to minimize any restrictions on product water flow. When the thin polyamide layer is well-supported by a substrate layer featuring robust, low-restriction pores, it ensures that our core technology can achieve its full potential in water flow. " 

Brett Holmberg, VP of Technology Development

By designing the substrate layer with the right mechanical strength and porosity, we enable the Aquaporin Inside® membrane to perform optimally, providing efficient filtration for our systems. 

The Aquaporin Inside® core technology triad is created by meticulously inter-combining expertise in biology, chemistry, and physics, building the synergy that brings nature's water filtration to humankind's society.  

With our core technology, we tailor solutions for various sectors, including the food and beverage industry, households, and industrial water. Each sector has distinct requirements and demands unique approaches.  

Published on May 2024 in