With traditional gas-based distillation, oils are extracted and purified from their source (a seed, fiber, or other organic material) by heating the source in solvent to separate it from its remaining oil. The massive amounts of fuel for this process, however, bear a heavy carbon footprint.
A graduate of HAX, SepPure developed an alternative: a sustainable, hollow-fiber nanofilter engineered at the nanometer scale to only permit the passage of certain molecules. This nanofiltration technology uses pressure-based filtration instead of heat, which reduces the scale of the distillation step and slashes energy consumption by 90%. Adding another layer of sustainability, SepPure’s filter fibers can be reused to create flame-retardant fabrics after several years of filtration use.
SepPure’s filter technology applies to a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, semiconductor, maritime, and plant-based oils. The company is gaining traction, too, with its pipeline covering more than half of the world’s top ten largest vegetable oil producers.
Speaking to TechCrunch on the challenges of creating a chemical membrane-based filtration technology, SepPure’s CEO and founder Dr. Mohammad Farahani remarked: “Strong solvents can easily dissolve polymers—you have to make polymeric membranes using solvents, but then they need to withstand solvents. That’s a challenging thing and a lot of research was done to get there. The beauty of what we’ve done is creating fibers to withstand harsh chemicals, high temperature, and high pressure.”
SepPure intends to use the money from the Series A to finish constructing its first filter production facility in Singapore.