Events Calendar

Engineering Membrane Materials for Complex Molecular Separations

Tuesday, April 11, 2023
9:30 am - 10:30 am

Location: NHB 1.720

The chemical and petrochemical industries consume nearly 30% of global energy use, nearly half of which is a result of chemical separations. A major opportunity exists in identifying more efficient, productive, and environmentally friendly processes that operate in a continuous fashion. One attractive possibility is membrane-based separations, but significant materials limitations exist in designing membranes that can selectively distinguish between molecules with sub-angstrom differences in size and nearly identical thermodynamic properties. To survey these challenges and describe emerging opportunities, a brief overview of the current state-of-the-art in membrane-based materials and applications will be presented. Next, several design strategies will be presented on how to leverage pore structure and pore functionality to control separation performance. A particular emphasis will be placed on new materials chemistries with a focus on testing materials under complex gas mixtures and for extended periods of time. Microporous materials, including polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) and metal–organic frameworks (MOFs), will be highlighted to demonstrate the many opportunities that exist for scientists and engineers to tackle global challenges in chemical separations today.

Zachary P. Smith is an Associate Professor and the Robert N. Noyce Career Development Chair of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on the molecular-level design, synthesis, and characterization of polymers and inorganic materials for applications in membrane and adsorption-based separations. Prof. Smith has co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers and has been recognized with several awards, including the DoE Early Career Award, NSF CAREER Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, AIChE 35 Under 35 Award, AIChE Kunesh Award for Separations, North American Membrane Society Young Membrane Scientist Award, and DoE Office of Science Graduate Fellowship. He was also awarded the Frank E. Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising at MIT. He served as a committee member in writing the 2019 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on A Research Agenda for Transforming Separation Science. Prof. Smith serves on the Board of Directors for the North American Membrane Society and is on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Macromolecules and Polymer. He is a co-founder and Chief Scientist for Osmoses Inc., a startup aiming to commercialize membrane technology. He completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin under the supervision of Profs. Benny Freeman and Don Paul.


Speaker: Dr. Zachary Smith, MIT