The development of CO2-switchable polymers as draw solutes for forward osmosis

Current methods for concentrating (removing water from) food and drinks for their transportation and/or storage rely on thermal or ultraviolet processing that is ultimately detrimental to the food product. This research proposes a novel method to remove the water that is based on forward osmosis, which solely depends on the ability of the draw solution to “draw” the water from the food across a membrane without the need to use pressure or heat. As might be anticipated, the need for complete recovery of the draw agent is of paramount importance for reducing the risks of contaminating or tainting the food product and depends on the choice of draw agent. We believe that the use of CO2-switchable polymers offers an ideal solution – as the polymers cannot back-diffuse into the food product and can easily be removed from solution after CO2 has been removed from the solution.

Anna Riabtseva
Faculty Supervisor: 
Michael Cunningham
Partner University: