(16g) Fundamental Study of Small Molecule Transport in Polymers As a Tool for the Development of New Membranes for Large Scale Separations
- Conference: AIChE Annual Meeting
- Year: 2016
- Proceeding: 2016 AIChE Annual Meeting
- Group: Meet the Faculty Candidate Poster Session – Sponsored by the Education Division
- Time: Sunday, November 13, 2016 - 1:00pm-3:30pm
A new paradigm in chemical engineering is the development of separation processes having acceptable separation efficiency and high energy and environmental sustainability. Membraneâ??based separations are a great opportunity in this area. They offer several advantages compared to traditional petrochemical processes, above all low energy coast, low environmental fingerprints, and possibility to be coupled with other processes, giving rise to the so-called process intensification. However, for several applications, membranes are not yet competitive with traditional processes, so further efforts are required to develop new materials endowed with better levels of permeability, selectivity and durability. Nowadays the membrane market, at least for gas separation, is based on the same ten materials as fifteen years ago, and some areas remain virtually unexplored, so there is plenty of room for fundamental research. Among these areas, we can mention separations where vapors and organic solvents are involved. Better membranes could replace distillation with vapor permeation in refineries.
Measuring and possibly predicting solubility, diffusivity and permeability of small molecules in polymers is the first step towards the design of new generation membrane materials. My research interest is fundamental analysis of gas, vapor and liquid sorption and transport in new generation polymers and their composites, with the final goal of building structure-property relationships that can serve as guidelines for the design of materials endowed with better separation performance. In particular, Iâ??m interested in i) tough polymers that can be used in harsh environments and/or for separations in which vapors and organic liquids are involved (pervaporation, vapor permeation, solvent dehydration, organic solvent nanofiltration) and ii) nanoporous semi-crystalline polymers and aerogels as sorbents for removal of recalcitrant, organic pollutants from water. These interests cover the broad areas of chemical engineering, polymers chemistry and materials science.
During my graduate studies, as well during my post-doctoral experience, I learned to combine experimental research with advanced modeling. This approach can actually improve the impact of academic research on the industrial practice, since theoretical modeling, if well performed, can reduce significantly experimental efforts that are not feasible in the industry. Among the most important results achieved so far, it is worth mentioning i) the characterization of novel materials for vapor separation, which are attracting strong interest for industrial applications, ii) the contribution to the development of rigorous models for predicting gas and vapor transport parameters in polymers and composites, iii) the contribution to the development of a new technique, based on FTIR spectroscopy, to investigate the transport of associating vapors in polymers and iv) the contribution to the pioneering work on pure and mixed ion sorption and transport in ion exchange polymers.
My teaching interests involve â??Thermodynamicsâ?, â??Transport Phenomenaâ?, â??Principles of Chemical Engineeringâ?, and any other class depending on the needs of the Department (at both undergraduate and graduate levels). I have a good experience in teaching â??Engineering Thermodynamicsâ? (3 academic years), as well as in mentoring and training graduate and undergraduate students in Chemical and Materials Engineering.
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