Research Scope & Themes
Developing Next Generation Membranes for Process Intensification
The main focus of the STEM Lab is to develop next-generation membranes to improve the process performance and sustainability. The primary application fields include water treatment & seawater desalination, solvent separation, artificial organs, fuel cells & electrolysis, and greenhouse gas capture & storage. We apply fundamental principles of chemical engineering to design innovative membranes in nano-precision. The research requires interdisciplinary knowledge ranging from polymer chemistry, nanotechnology, and process engineering to biomedical and materials science.
[Sustainable Water Treatment]
Even with the unprecedented technological advancements, one-third of the global population (2 billion) still suffers from severe water scarcity, which is surprising because water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. Water is in fact abundant, but unfortunately drinkable clean water is scarce. Membrane technology is by far the most sustainable process to produce clean water from all available sources including seawater (97% of all water resources), groundwater, and wastewater.
The STEM Lab aims to fabricate high performance membranes using next-generation materials to improve the overall sustainability of water purification. We are also developing innovative processes that can break the Water-Energy Nexus and produce clean water using renewable energy sources.
(Organic Solvent Nanofiltration, OSN)
Most of the membrane technology until now have focused on water and gas purification. However, real challenging separation tasks lies in the chemical industries that employ organic solvents, catalysts, and pharmaceuticals. With recent advancement in nanotechnology and material science, it is now possible to design and control membrane pores as precise as nano-scale.
The STEM Lab aims to develop solvent-stable nanomaterials that can perform molecular separations down to 1 nm precision. We aim to apply these membranes to recycle organic solvents in high quality, increase the lifetime of homogeneous catalysts, improve the purity of pharmaceutical compounds, and lower the energy requirement of chemical processes. The relevant chemical industries include pharmaceutical, fine chemicals, semiconductors, and petroleum Industries.
[Biomedical & Healthcare Membranes]
The human life expectancy has improved steadily thanks to better healthcare and medical technology. However, complete replacement of failed organs remains to be a challenge and millions of patients worldwide are desperately awaiting organ transplant. Membrane technology has been widely applied to augment failed kidneys and lungs, but immune responses and undesired coagulation due to poor blood-material interaction hinders long-term usage of membranes.
The STEM Lab aims to develop and fabricate tailored membranes into artificial kidney, artificial lung, artificial liver, and artificial pancreas that can replace or augment natural organs. We seek to improve the life quality and well-being of patients by developing bio(hemo)compatible materials that can potentially replace failed organs without the need for organ transplant.
Greenhouse Gas Capture and Storage
Global warming is one of the most pressing challenges that human species is facing now. There is no doubt that the current crises is due to anthropogenic emissions (human activity), and we must do everything we can to limit the global warming below 2 degree Celsius. Recent international agreement at COP21 Paris is promising, but not enough to stop the escalating temperature rise. One of the feasible solutions is to selectively capture greenhouses gases (CO2, CH4, SF6, etc) from industry flue gases or directly from the atmosphere.
The STEM Lab aims to develop tailored nanomaterials that can selectively capture greenhouses gases. We are taking a top-down approach to develop CO2-negative capture process using novel materials such as graphene, metal organic frameworks (MOF), and zeolites.