Jan 20 2012

Dr. Ayse Asatekin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

January 20, 2012

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


CEB 218


810 South Clinton Street, Chicago, IL 60612

Efficient Membranes through Polymer Engineering

Water scarcity affects one in three people across the globe, limiting access to safe water for drinking, sanitation, and agriculture. This number is expected to grow significantly as fresh water resources are depleted, and water pollution affects larger areas. Preserving our water resources and generating fresh, safe water relies on the development of new technologies. Membranes that remove contaminants from water are a key to energy-efficient and effective water treatment. However, their wide-spread use is limited by low permeability, poor selectivity, and membrane fouling. Rational design of polymeric membrane systems to control key factors such as morphology, surface chemistry, and nanostructure can significantly improve these performance parameters, and make affordable, effective and efficient water treatment systems possible. This presentation focuses on the development of ultrafiltration (UF) membranes with exceptional fouling resistance manufactured without additional processing steps, making use of the self-organizing properties of amphiphilic comb copolymers. Polyacrylonitrile¬-graft¬-poly(ethylene oxide) (PAN-g-PEO), an amphiphilic comb copolymer with a hydrophobic polyacrylonitrile (PAN) backbone and hydrophilic poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) side chains, is used as an additive in the manufacture of novel PAN UF membranes. During casting, the PAN-g-PEO additive segregates to form a PEO brush layer on all membrane surfaces, including internal pores. This creates a hydrophilic membrane surface that resists adsorption of feed components. The resultant membranes resist adsorptive fouling completely, and recover initial performance with a water-only rinse or backwash, eliminating the need for harsh chemical cleanings. They also have significantly higher fluxes compared with membranes cast from PAN only. We have investigated the performance of these membranes in a wide range of applications, including oil well produced water, refinery wastewater, shale gas field wastewater, and membrane bioreactors for treating domestic wastewater. Due to their ability to resist adsorptive fouling, these membranes can sustain higher fluxes, require less frequent backwashes, eliminate the need for chemical cleanings, and achieve longer membrane lifetimes, translating to reduced energy consumption during operation and better process economics. This can mean cheaper methods to provide clean water and to protect our water resources.


UIC Chemical Engineering

Date posted

Jun 17, 2019

Date updated

Jun 17, 2019