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QUT scientists on the way to sifting out a cure for HIV

HIV may one day be able to be filtered from human blood saving the lives of millions of people, thanks to a world-first innovation by Queensland University of Technology scientists.

QUT scientists have developed specially designed ceramic membranes for nanofiltration, which are so advanced they have the potential to remove viruses from water, air and blood.

Associate Professor Huaiyong Zhu, from QUT's School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, is leading the development of these membranes, also known as nano-mesh, and said preliminary research had proved it successful in removing viruses from water.

Nanofiltration is the filtration of minute particles using a filter with extremely small pores.

"If we can remove compounds from liquids and viruses from water, then there may also be potential to remove HIV from blood," Dr Zhu said.

Dr Zhu said current ceramic membranes were unable to permit high filtration flux or flow, and at the same time effectively filter out unwanted particles or viruses.

He said another failing of current membranes was they often formed pin-holes and cracks during the fabrication process, resulting in wasted membranes.

"With this in mind we have introduced radical changes to the membrane texture because it is the membrane texture which is crucial to the separation efficiency of the material," he said.

"It is scientifically known that a mesh structure is the most efficient form of filtration and we are the first group to successfully construct such a structure on a nanometre scale with ceramic fibres.

"This modification has increased the rates of flow that pass through the membranes by at least ten times compared with current ceramic membranes, while maintaining the efficiency of capturing over 96 per cent of the unwanted particles."

Dr Zhu said the membranes, which have been patented by QUT, were not solely restricted to blood filtration and could als
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Source:Queensland University of Technology


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