Thomas Kasl

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Faculty Advisor: William Phillip

3D-Printing Hierarchical Nanostructure Absorbance for Contaminant Removal and Resource Recovery

Further effort in the Phillip Group has proven that a custom 3D-printing system can create well-defined polymer membranes with finely-tuned hierarchical structures. The non-Newtonian flow of the polymer solvent system allows for desirable printing properties. Having constructed membranes made from a tri-co-polymer solvent system with integral carbon nano-tubes, the efficacy of metal ion adsorption needs to be evaluated.  Previous research has shown that similar tri-co-polymer membranes fabricated by a surface-segregation and vapor-induced phase separation (SVIPS) process have produced membranes with high permeability and binding affinity for heavy metal ions. 3D-printing these types of membranes will allow us to have even higher permeability and therefore high energy efficiency-contaminant removal and resource recovery. Successful ion uptake experiments will also serve as proof of concept for the 3D-printing technique and provide confidence for developing other novel materials with the system. Applications include: nitrate recovery from fertilizer runoff;  lead removal from contaminated water in areas such as Flint, MI; and heavy-metal ion recovery from industrial chemical processes.