Global View & Purification with Fibrous Membranes
Benjamin CHU
Departments of Chemistry, Materials Science & Engineering and Biomedical Engineering*
Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3400
Population growth, global climate change, and limited sources on fresh water availability have
made ‘water’ of pivotal importance in the 21st century, especially in its relationship with energy
and environment. More specifically, the recent development of shale gas/oil shall change the
outlook on energy for many parts of the world, especially in the United States and China.
We have made breakthrough concepts on fibrous separation membranes. Non-woven fiber
mats have unique properties, such as interconnected pores, very large surface-to-volume ratios,
and high capacity for surface modifications. By combining fibrous mats composed of different
fiber cross sections and surface properties, a unique platform based on separation membranes
for water purification is being established.
Recent advances in chemical modifications, structural studies by using synchrotron X-ray
radiation, and physical scale-up transformations of cellulose ultra-thin nano-fibers with high
degrees of crystallinity have drastically improvedthe filtration membrane development. In
particular, we have paid attention to the chemical/physical properties of polysaccharides, which
form one of the most abundant sustainable resources on earth. By taking advantage of
fundamental advances in materials understanding across length and time scales and the
interrelationships between structure, morphology, processing, properties, performance and cost,
we have developed an opportunity to meet specific challenges arising from the use of ultra-thin
nano-fibers as the basis of barrier layers for separation membranes, which can form new
constructs useful for water purification.
Support of this work by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research,
the National Institutes of Health, and Stony Brook University is gratefully acknowledged. The
current Chu/Hsiao group members on water purification include Professors Benjamin S. Hsiao
and Christian Burger, Drs. Hongyang Ma, Dufei Fang, and Ran Wang, and graduate students:
Xiao Wang, Zhe Wang, Ying Su, Ray Yang, and Tsung-Ming Yeh.
*Affiliated member
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