Membranes play a crucial role in living cells, plants and animals. They not only serve as barriers between the inside and outside world of cells and organs. More importantly, they are means of selective transport of materials and host for biochemical conversion. Natural membrane systems have demonstrated efficiency and reliability for millions of years and it is remarkable that most of these systems are small, efficient and highly reliable even under rapidly changing ambient conditions. Thus, it appears to be advisable for technology developers to keep a close eye on Mother Nature. By doing so it is most likely that ideas for novel technical solutions are born. Following the concept of natural systems it is hypothesized that the Millennium Development Goals can be best met when counting on small water and wastewater treatment systems. The core of such systems could be membranes in which chemical reactions are integrated allowing recovery and direct utilization of valuable substances.

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