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TexTalks: Bioinspired ideas for Sustainable Separations
January 29 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Membranes are rapidly becoming the fastest growing platform for many process applications in water treatment, process industries, pharmaceutical manufacturing and food processing. This talk will present ideas for bioinspired separations that could enable difficult separations while reducing the impact on the environment by reducing energy input, both embedded and operational. All synthetic membranes (and indeed most separation processes) have selectivity-permeability tradeoffs, i.e. if a membrane has high permeability, it will have a lower selectivity between two solutes or between a solute and a solvent. In molecular separation dense membranes, separation is due to the mechanism of solution-diffusion through a wide distribution of free volume elements which is responsible for the trade-off. A simple solution, in concept, to such a challenge is to do what nature does – design precise angstrom to micron scale pores or free volume elements with no polydispersity. We will discuss bioinspired ideas, and its realization in our lab, and possible applications of such an ideal membrane based on biological protein channels and artificial channels that mimic their structure. We will also describe an ongoing project in our lab to create interfacially polymerized channel-based membranes for highly selective gas separations and other applications.