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Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Increase permeate flow, reduce energy consumption

We believe a commitment to innovation and thoughtful design can solve many of the world’s greatest challenges, including the conservation and provision of clean water. This is why we teamed up with the technology firm Aqua Membranes to champion a revolution in water filtration – Printed Spacer Technology®, also referred to as printed feed spacers.



5 min.
Loctite Printed feed spacers

Combining expertise to solve a global challenge

Printed feed spacers for membrane filtration are changing the conversation in reverse osmosis – one of the foremost methods of treating water across industries. Replacing conventional mesh feed spacers with printed feed spacers improves water flow and reduces energy consumption, all while reducing fouling and scaling in the element.

This unique solution to a global problem has been made possible by leveraging the combined experience of both Henkel and Aqua Membranes. Aqua Membranes’ deep knowledge of membrane technology and the process of filtration and separation, coupled with Henkel’s resin and manufacturing technology has led to a unique design for printing resin directly onto flat sheet membrane. The resultant patterns, which can be thinner than traditional mesh spacers, offer a more open water flow channel without sacrificing pressure drop.

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How printed feed spacers work

See how printed feed spacers work to improve permeate flow, reduce energy consumption and lower costs in treating water with reverse osmosis.

Why printed feed spacers are superior to mesh spacers

Traditionally, the reverse osmosis process uses an extruded plastic mesh spacer between layered membrane leaves to create fluid separation and filtration through spiral-wound elements. While this technology has been effective for many decades, it has inherent technical limitations. A conventional mesh spacer takes up valuable space between membrane layers; requires consistent cleaning due to fouling; creates a demanding flow path; and stifles optimization potential.

Printing feed spacers directly on the flat sheet membrane can increase total available surface area by 20-40%. This is achieved by reducing the thickness of the spacers, thereby increasing available surface area inside the membrane element and creating an open flow path, which:

  • Allows increased flow with the same pressure drop 

OR

  • Decreased pressure drop with the same flow

OR

  • Some variation in between

The results? Increased element productivity and reduced energy consumption, and the design freedom to optimize for any application.

This shift away from the traditional mesh structure to a seamless “maze” pattern also provides limitless customization potential. Imagine the variety of printed spacer designs to optimize performance in any liquid separation application.

Graphic of extruded mesh feed spacer
Conventional mesh feed spacer
  • Mature technology with little innovation in over 50 years
  • Inherent limitations
  • Closed structure restricts flow
  • Connection points create fouling and scaling
Printed feed spacer
  • Printed directly on flat sheet membrane
  • Lower heights = more surface area/element
  • Open flow path = reduced pressure drop
  • Reduced fouling and scaling
  • Limitless optimization for individual applications
Graphic of printed feed spacer

Printed feed spacers change the game — dramatically improving performance. This technology has tremendous potential to impact our global water crisis and lower the cost of water for everyone.

To discuss the application of LOCTITE resins for printed feed spacers, please fill out the form below and we will be glad to share more details.

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