Luiz Henrique DA SILVA CORREA (Brazil)

Luiz is seeking to solve the problem of biofouling to ensure a safe, reliable, and sustainable water supply. Using Reverse Osmosis (RO) technologies, Luiz aims to develop a standardised protocol, select, and subsequently test green chemical alternatives to prevent biofouling in drinking water RO applications.

PhD Student in Civil Engineering at The University of Victoria, Canada

Research focus: water and wastewater treatment, safer alternatives to prevent biofouling in reverse osmosis polyamide membrane systems for potable water

The increasing demand for water due to population growth, industrialisation, and climate change highlights the need for sustainable technologies to overcome water shortages. In his research, Luiz focuses on Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology to filter water. RO has been successfully applied in many countries to meet long-term drinking water needs. Using polyamide membranes, this technology plays a crucial role in combating water scarcity as it can produce freshwater from various water sources such as seawater, brackish water, and wastewater. Decentralised RO polyamide membrane systems are a robust choice for providing clean and affordable water to communities far from water treatment plants. Capable of removing microorganisms, pollutants, and turbidity from any type of water source, the scalability of RO technology allows it to be applied at smaller scales such as buildings and villages, or at larger scales such as cities and industries.

Luiz addresses a major problem in RO: biofouling, being responsible for more than 60% of RO system failures. Currently, biofouling is the main barrier to RO technology in providing clean, affordable freshwater. Biofouling is the unwanted proliferation of microorganisms in the form of a biofilm on the surface of the RO membrane, resulting in a significant reduction in water production and an increase in energy demand and operational costs.

Literature on biofouling prevention and control is sparse, and tools for developing safe, effective antifouling agents are largely unknown in an industrial context. Although there is currently no standard protocol for testing the effectiveness of new anti-biofouling agents in RO systems, methods for characterising biofouling and its effects are well-known. To promote sustainable water supplies using RO technologies, Luiz intends to develop a standardised protocol, select, and subsequently test green chemical alternatives to prevent biofouling in drinking water RO applications and mitigate RO polyamide membrane durability issues.

Luiz’ research contributes to several UN Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

The jury recognised the benefits of Luiz’ interdisciplinary approach and his clear scientific focus. Overcoming the existing challenge of biofouling in RO systems is fundamental to promoting various positive social, economic, and environmental impacts.

The research of Luiz mainly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals 6, 9, 11, 12:

Take a look at this video that briefly introduces Luiz and his research: