(168f) Multiscale Ionomeric Block Polymer Assemblies for Membrane Applications
Polymeric membranes for filtration and desalination applications play a critical role in producing the billions of gallons of water required daily. Current polymers used for water desalination membranes suffer from coupled water sorption and salt selectivity, which leads to membranes with either (1) high permeation rates and low selectivity, or (2) highly selective membranes with poor permeation rates. Decoupling and optimizing water and ion transport in polymeric membranes is critical for reducing the energy costs of desalination. Ionomeric block polymers are a tremendously powerful platform for separations membranes and offer the potential to decouple moisture transport and salt rejection from mechanical integrity. These exciting materials synergistically incorporate electrostatic interactions to modulate transport performance with microphase separation to customize the mechanical integrity. Thus, we will discuss the development of structure-property-diffusion relationships that have been developed in our lab that contribute toward a better understanding of the interplay between polymer morphology, water and salt sorption and transport characteristics, and thermomechanical properties. In addition to variations in nanoscale structure and functionality, our lab is focused on analyzing changes in the macroscopic structure of the membrane. For example, filtration processes that remove large particles and biomass demand a high water flux, which make fibrous nonwoven mats desirable. Electrospinning non-woven polymeric mats comprised of ionomeric block polymers offers a strategy to generate large surface area filtration substrates with tailorable surface functionality. Other membrane architectures of interest include dense membranes and hollow fiber membranes, and our lab is interested in correlating the properties of ionomeric block polymers to the membrane architecture.