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Charged Polymer Membranes for Water Purification and Power Generation

The 12th Annual G.J. & S.T. Su Distinguished Lectureship: Professor Donald R. Paul, Ph.D. Ernest Cockrell, Sr. Chair in Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
101 Goergen

Providing sustainable supplies of water and energy are critical global challenges for the coming decades.  Polymeric membranes are the dominant technology for desalination and could be useful for power generation applications as well.  These desalination and power generation applications include reverse osmosis (RO), nanofiltration (NF), forward osmosis (FO), pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), electrodialysis (ED), membrane capacitive deionization (CDI), and reverse electrodialysis (RED).  Membranes with tailored water and salt transport properties, which are also chemically and physically robust, are required to extend and optimize these technologies.  Most membranes for these applications will contain anionic or cationic charges covalently bound to the polymer.  As will be discussed, the understanding of how fixed charges affect transport of ions is not currently adequate to guide the development of new materials and structures that will meet these future needs.   Progress in this direction will be aided by use of physically realistic models combined with experimental membrane characterizations that go beyond measuring water flux and salt rejection.  This presentation will elaborate on these issues and summarize results from ongoing investigations of structure-property relationships aimed at providing a better fundamental understanding of material structure and membrane performance.