Application of membrane-based processes to non-liquid separations have been fairly limited. While many areas like natural gas purification and petrochemical refining would clearly benefit from using membranes in terms of energy savings, yet conventional thermal processes continue to dominate. State-of-the-art membrane materials like polymers typically fail to address the performance requirements for such applications. Our group designs and creates advanced membrane materials which successfully overcome these performance limitations. We primarily focus on creating carbon molecular sieve membranes which offer a unique combination of excellent separation properties with scalable processability. A major focus of our research group is the design and development of carbon molecular sieve membranes for natural gas upgrading, CO2 capture and hydrocarbon separations.
Membranes play a critical role in the wastewater purification industry, with processes like reverse osmosis (RO)and nanofiltration (NF), accounting for nearly 65% of all desalination operations worldwide. Challenges still exist for this technology in the form of membrane fouling, inadequate selectivities for non-charged solutes and application to hyper-saline sources just to name a few. Addressing these challenges could lead to further lowering of energy requirements for membrane-based processes, which in fact, is the focus of our research. We employ nano engineering -enabled techniques (e.g self-assembly) to improve the properties of existing membranes as well as, create entirely new membrane platforms with attractive separation properties.