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Method for Fouling Reduction on the Surface of Ceramic Membranes Using Steam Fast-Flushing

This opportunity has now closed and is no longer accepting expressions of interest.

The Business Opportunity

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is seeking expressions of interest from firms wishing to enter into a commercial licensing arrangement to bring to market our technology “Method for fouling reduction on the surface of ceramic membranes using steam fast-flushing”, which was developed by researchers at our CanmetMINING laboratory. The ideal licensee would be a distributor for this technology, and would have the capacity for the manufacturing, service, maintenance, support, marketing and sales. The ideal licensee will operate in waste water treatment activities, such as food, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, mining, and/or oil and gas industries.

Brief Technology Description

NRCan has filed international patent applications in Canada, US, and Germany for this technology, which reduces and controls membrane fouling by the application of steam flushing and back flushing to clean the membrane or filter in place during the process, without physically removing them from the process.

Reference Material

Patents: WO/2020/163955, CA3111164, US17/271,893 and PCT/CA2020/050187-DE (both not published yet)
Appendix A: Technology Background and Details
Appendix B: Business Plan Required Format

Expression of Interest

Companies interested in commercializing the NRCan technology must submit a letter of interest to NRCan on or before August 13, 2021.  Preference will be given to Canadian companies, but U.S. and other foreign companies will also be considered provided that such foreign companies demonstrate a benefit to Canada.

NRCan will invite qualified companies to attend an interactive webinar where additional technical information will be presented. Participation in this information session will be subject to signing a non-disclosure agreement. Following the webinar, companies may submit questions and requests for clarifications. NRCan’s responses to questions and requests for clarifications will be issued to all qualified companies alike.

Companies interested in becoming NRCan’s licensee will then be required to submit a business plan for NRCan’s consideration.  Business plans must address all of the elements outlined in Appendix B: Business Plan Required Format, and must be submitted to the contact below.


Maria de Fatima Machado
Intellectual Property Officer - Intellectual Property Division (IPD)
Natural Resources Canada/Government of Canada
Cell : 343-572-0389

Appendix A: Technology Background and Details


Synthetic membranes are commonly used in water and wastewater treatment. Most of the membranes used in these applications are polymeric in nature. Use of membranes for produced water treatment has been hindered by the fouling observed in treating these feed streams, where fouling results from the adhesion of non-permeating species onto the membrane surface or from the deposition of these particles into the pores of the membrane, obstructing the flow of the permeating species which leads to an increase in trans membrane concentration and pressure gradients.

Ceramic membranes are made from metal oxides. They maintain good structural integrity in the presence of heat and solvents. They have been used in many industries such as food, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries. In the treatment of oil-water streams, oily produced water and oil sands produced water, ceramic membrane can also be used.

Researchers have attempted, with limited success, to develop various fouling remediation techniques such as applying ultrasonic fields to break up surface deposits, back flushing with permeate, and use of different chemical cleaning agents. These methods, however, necessitate longer periods of equipment shut-down and inactivity, leading to operation inefficiency and an undesired increase of operational costs.

Method for Fouling Reduction on the Surface of Ceramic Membranes Using Steam Fast-Flushing

In order to solve these issues, NRCan is offering a method for reducing fouling on the surface of a ceramic membrane or filter with a recalcitrant filtration cake thereon that is non-responsive to regular back flushing or other physical means of removal. The ceramic membrane or filter is subjected to steam fast-flushing by injecting steam directly in the feed channel of the ceramic membrane or filter while back flushing the ceramic membrane or filter at the same time to heat and remove the fouled layer on the ceramic membrane or filter while cooling a selective layer of the ceramic membrane or filter to avoid thermal shocking of the ceramic membrane or filter. The surface is cleaned with the ceramic membrane or filter being stationary, which means, without physically removing the membrane or the filter in place from the process.

Appendix B - Business Plan Required Format

Companies are encouraged to submit concise and clear evidence under the following headings:

Executive Summary

Section 1: Company Information

  • General overview and company summary
    • Organizational maturity
    • Experience /success in the industry
    • Technical capability
    • Marketing capacity
  • Corporate objectives
    • Short-term objectives
    • Long-term objectives

Section 2: Key Personnel and Networks

  • Provide company organization chart identifying key members and foreseen roles
  • Provide resumes of personnel key to this project including credentials and relevant experience

Section 3: Knowledge and Experience

  • Previous experience on similar projects
  • Experience testing ceramic membranes
  • Experience conducting business in ceramic membranes
  • Knowledge of the regulatory structure for water treatment, wastewaters in general, oily waters and oil sands waters treatment
  • Provide evidence of Quality Managed System
  • Provide three customer references
  • Please note that NRCan may seek additional references from potential end-users

Section 4: Financial Stability

Each company authorises NRCan to make credit enquiries about it and any of its affiliates and to receive and exchange credit information from credit reporting agencies or other persons with which the company or any of its affiliates has or may expect to have financial dealings. Each company must provide NRCan with the company’s (and, on request by NRCan, any of the company’s affiliates) audited financial statements for the last three financial years for which they are available and financial statements for any period after the last audited period.

Section 5 Market, Customer, and Competition Analysis

  • Market opportunity, size and trends
  • Key customer bases
  • Key competitors

Section 6 Production and Marketing Plan

  • Product description
  • Distribution channel(s)
  • Target markets (i.e. Canada, USA, worldwide) and sales strategy

Section 7 Company Financial Information

  • Five-year cash flow forecast
  • Capital cost estimates
  • Operating budgets
  • Manufacturing costs for NRCan’s technology
  • Proposed sale price for product (s) incorporating NRCan’s technology
  • Proposed profit margin targets for sales of product(s) incorporating NRCan’s technology
  • Proposed royalty structure for product (s) incorporating NRCan’s technology

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