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Purification Technology

A new technology to recover industrial process fluids, extend fluid lifetime, and minimize costs

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's proven, patent-pending filtration system offers an improved method for purifying industrial process fluids—such as parts washing cleaning solution and metalworking coolant—extending fluid lifetime and thus minimizing costs associated with chemical purchase and waste disposal.

This efficient and cost-effective technology consists of an integrated membrane filtration system that separates emulsified oils and contaminants from detergents, solvents, and metalworking coolant while using the machine’s existing pumping system. The membrane filtration system is incorporated into the parts washer or coolant sump such that a single pumping device now provides two functions: parts washing and fluids purification.

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The technology offers several benefits:

  • Cost effective: Reduces the costs associated with chemical purchase, waste disposal, labor, machinery down-time, and future liability
  • Extends fluid lifetime: Successfully filters out dissolved and suspended contaminants, increasing fluid lifetime
  • Reduces liquid waste: Reduces the amount of liquid waste generated by industrial processes, because fluid replacement is needed less often
  • Eliminates health risks: Eliminates the need for biocides and prevents microorganism growth
  • Simple: Easily incorporated into the existing equipment’s pumping system; no additional, expensive pumps required
  • Proven: Successful performance of prototype purification systems for 18 months without service
  • Low maintenance: Reusable filters that can be cleaned on site or shipped to a service provider for cleaning
  • Compatible: Works well with most cleaning and coolant chemistries.
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fluid recovery applications

Aqueous Parts Washers
Manufactured parts must be cleaned of grease and metal shavings prior to installation in automobiles, trucks, aircraft, locomotives, electric motors, hydraulic equipment, transformers, and other products. By successfully purifying the cleaning fluid, this technology enables effective, efficient parts washing while minimizing wastewater.

Metalworking Equipment
Metalworking coolant can become contaminated with bacteria, oils, and metal debris. These contaminants shorten the useful life of the coolant and can cause health problems. When integrated into coolant recovery systems, this technology can greatly enhance the performance of metalworking coolant while significantly reducing solid and liquid waste disposal.

Printing Equipment
To ensure high-quality output, printers must properly clean their presses every time the ink is changed. This technology successfully filters out the contaminants that can prevent effective equipment cleaning.

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Technology Details

How it works

The integrated membrane filtration system consists of a membrane filter, a process tank, means of venting the process tank, two control valves, one check valve, connective plumbing, and a permeate line to return the cleaned industrial process fluid to the tank of the industrial process equipment. Unlike other systems, the University’s design does not use additional pumps to push the fluids into or through the membrane filtration portion of the system, keeping the invention low cost.


The University has provided the Illinois National Guard with four prototype systems of this technology, which demonstrated successful fluid purification/recycling for 18 months without the need for service or fluid replacement.


This technology is 100% owned by the University. A patent application—Multiple Mode Industrial Process System (09/929,974)—was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on August 15, 2001. 

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  • "Recycling of Aqueous Cleaning Solutions with Membrane Filtration: Issues and Practice," by N. Rajagopalan, T. Lindsey, and J. Sparks. Published in 1999 in Metal Finishing 97(3):39-51.
  • "Recycling Aqueous Cleaning Solutions: Using Membrane Filtration to Recycle Aqueous Cleaning Solutions," by Rajagopalan, T. Lindsey, and J. Sparks. Published in July 1999 in Products Finishing.

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Commercial Opportunity

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is offering its industrial fluid purification/recovery technology for license by qualified companies. The University has applied for patent protection for this invention and is the sole owner of the technology.

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For More Information

For more information about UIUC technologies, please visit

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This technology is owned by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
TF00020 (UI01-158)