Chemical and Biological Engineering
Dr. Steven Weinman’s group focuses on functionalizing commercial membranes via surface chemistry and surface morphology modifications with the ultimate goal to improve current commercial membranes.
Membranes are semi-permeable barriers that separate substances when a driving force is applied across the membrane. The Weinman group works to provide solutions to current environmental and wastewater challenges by developing new membrane technologies. We will study fundamental interactions of modified membranes with different compounds of interest.
Membrane distillation purifies water through a vapor pressure gradient created by heating the feed solution, which causes water vapor to diffuse through the hydrophobic membrane pores. Therefore, only volatile components can transport through the membrane, thus removing contaminants from water. However, one of the limitations of membrane distillation is membrane fouling. My research will be focused on surface modifying these membranes to reduce oil fouling.
Another project involves creating membrane adsorbers to capture heavy metals. Heavy metals are known to be toxic, are not biodegradable, and will accumulate in living organisms. Unlike technologies that rely on pore diffusion for mass transport (e.g. resin beads), these membrane adsorbers use convective flow through the membrane pores for mass transport to the adsorption sites.
A third project revolves around water and wastewater treatment by functionalizing ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis membranes with anti-fouling zwitterion layers. These layers are special in that they can switch reversibly between anti-fouling mode and antimicrobial mode (biocidal).