Christian Trujillo Salas
University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
Faculty Advisor: William A. Phillip
Design and Optimization of Nanostructured Membrane Sorbents in a Fit-for-Purpose Treatment Framework
Significant advances in water treatment processes promised by nanotechnology have been slow to manifest because the connections between fundamental scientific research and technology development are often overlooked. Thus, there is a critical need to develop systematic frameworks for identifying the most promising applications of novel nanostructured materials and overcoming the gaps in knowledge that inhibit the translation of these materials from the laboratory scale to effective water treatment technologies. This project aims to develop systematic frameworks that integrate fundamental nanoscale knowledge of block polymer-based membrane sorbents with systems-scale mathematical modeling and analysis of adsorptive processes to enable the deployment of the tailor-made membranes in a fit-for-purpose water paradigm. The research objectives are to: (1.) identify quantitative processing-nanostructure-property relationships between block polymer architecture,processing conditions, and pore wall chemistry and the throughput, saturation capacity, and separation selectivity of adsorptive block polymer membranes by analyzing the separation efficacy in testbed systems; (2.) develop a detailed process model for membrane-based sorbents; and (3.) execute a thermodynamic analysis of the governing process model. If successful, this research plan will establish new methods to systematically optimize membrane nanostructure, functionality, and fabrication in concert with separation system design, resulting in the delivery of a transformative technology platform to guide membrane designs for a variety of water treatment applications, such as heavy metal removal, nutrient recovery, and industrial wastewater reuse.