Ceramic Ultrafiltration: a Workhouse in Industrial Desalination, Manufacturing and More

Saltworks’ XtremeUF self-maintaining ceramic system finds broad applications

February 15th, 2022

Saltworks Technologies recently delivered a full-scale compact and automated XtremeUF ultrafiltration system to an advanced materials manufacturing plant in the US. XtremeUF removes specific contaminants that conventional clarifiers and polymeric ultrafiltration have struggled with, either due to reliability, excessive chemical consumption, or space requirements. When appropriate and implemented correctly, ceramic ultrafiltration improves overall water balance at lower operating costs while saving valuable floor space. Saltworks has more XtremeUF systems in production, which it will be delivering this year. 

Saltworks originally developed XtremeUF technology for industrial desalination, specifically to remove precipitated scaling ions in order to enable ultra-high recovery membrane desalination (for example, recoveries up to 99%). XtremeUF is increasingly being deployed in non-desalination applications for its versatility and long-term reliability. The technology is being used to remove chemical reaction by-products in manufacturing, produce electric vehicle (EV) battery-grade inputs, and to extract and recycle constituents of value from waste streams. 

Photo of a full-scale XtremeUF plant
A comprehensive, containerized, full-scale XtremeUF plant.

Malcolm Man, Saltworks’ EVP, describes XtremeUF as “a self-cleaning robot built around widely available ceramic membrane elements. The hardened non-polymeric membranes can take a beating and our customers are not beholden to a single supplier since we use commoditized membrane elements. Saltworks’ value-add is a compact, high-quality skid with our innovative and proprietary process control that keeps the system operating at peak capacity. We are thrilled to see important industries such as manufacturing, mining, and power generation benefiting from XtremeUF.”

Photo of XtremeUF columns in a full-scale skidded plant
Photo of an XtremeUF plant's vessels
Close-up views of the XtremeUF vessels contained within a full-scale plant.

Ultrafiltration Technical Background 

Ultrafiltration (UF) removes total suspended solids (TSS) from waters with particle sizes from 0.01 to 1.2 microns. There are two broad types of UF—ceramic and polymeric—with many variants within. Both have a specific fit case. For general guidance, polymeric ultrafiltration is well suited to waters with TSS around 100 mg/L and no harmful organics or chemicals (for example, river water). Ceramic UF costs more than polymeric UF but treats more challenging waters—such as those with TSS around 100 times higher (10,000 mg/L), wider pH and temperature ranges, and with more complex organics—without impacts on membrane longevity.


Saltworks works with clients to support the selection of the correct UF system for each project, understanding the fit case, cost, and trade-offs of both polymeric and ceramic UF. XtremeUF can be paired with a BrineRefine system to alter water chemistry, extract valuable resources, or enable ultra-high recovery reverse osmosis by removing scaling ions. Saltworks welcomes new challenges and owns a fleet of mobile automated pilot plants ready for dispatch. To learn more about XtremeUF and ultrafiltration, reach out to a Saltworks expert.

About Saltworks

Saltworks Technologies is a leader in the development and delivery of solutions for industrial wastewater treatment and lithium refining. By working with customers to understand their unique challenges and focusing on continuous innovation, Saltworks’ solutions provide best-in-class performance and reliability. From its headquarters in Richmond, BC, Canada, Saltworks’ team designs, builds, and operates full-scale plants, and offers comprehensive onsite and offsite testing services with its fleet of mobile pilots.

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