More than 50 scientists, academics and industrialists turned up for the launch of the Membrane Society of Australasia (MSA) at VU's City Flinders Campus this week.
The society brings together researchers from Australia and New Zealand working in business, universities and research institutes, including the CSIRO.
Chair of the board, VU's Associate Professor Mikel Duke, principal membrane researcher at the Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, said membrane work in Australia and New Zealand had reached a critical mass, leading to breakthroughs in water treatment and food technology.
"Membrane technology plays a critical role in our lives, addressing major issues such as climate change, water security and food quality," Professor Duke said.
"The aim of the MSA is to unite Australasia's world-class research and industry activities addressing societal needs."
Speakers included one of the fathers of membrane research in Australia, Professor Tony Fane from the University of NSW, and Bruce Biltoft the managing director Memcor Products Asia, the membrane manufacturing division of Siemens Water Technologies, sponsor of the launch. Dr Andrew Groth, director of chemistry and membrane development of Siemens Water Technologies also made a brief address.
Professor Fane discussed the development of membranes from filters "as big as my arm" in the 1980s to the nano-technology of today in which membranes up to 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair are commonplace, enabling the extraction of micro-organisms as small as bacteria from water.
The launch was previewed on ABC Radio's AM program earlier in the week. A podcast is available here: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/news/audio/am/200905/20090505-am-09-membrane-groupies.WAV.mp3