Levich Institute Seminar Announcement, 12/09/2014
Tuesday, 12/09/2014
2:00 PM
Steinman Hall, Room #312
(Chemical Engineering Conference Room)

Professor Benny Freeman
University of Texas at Austin
Department of Chemical Engineering

"Ion Sorption, Diffusion and Transport in Polymer Membranes"

ABSTRACT


Charged polymeric materials are widely used for water purification applications involving control of water and ion transport, such as reverse osmosis and electrodialysis. Efforts are also underway worldwide to harness separation properties of such materials for energy generation in related applications such as reverse electrodialysis and pressure retarded osmosis. Additional applications, such as energy recovery ventilation and capacitive deionization, rely on polymer membranes to control transport rates of water, ions, or both. Improving membranes for such processes would benefit from more complete fundamental understanding of the relation between membrane structure and ion sorption, diffusion and transport properties in both cation and anion exchange membrane materials. Ion-exchange membranes often contain strongly acidic or basic functional groups that render the materials hydrophilic, but the presence of such charged groups also has a substantial impact on ion (and water) transport properties through the polymer.

We are exploring the influence of polymer backbone structure, charge density, and water content on ion transport properties. Results from some of these studies will be presented, focusing on transport of salt, primarily NaCl, through various neutral, positively charged and negatively charged membranes via concentration gradient driven transport (i.e., ion permeability) and field driven transport (i.e., electrical conductivity). Our long-term goal is to develop and validate a common framework to interpret data from both electrically driven and concentration gradient driven mass transport in such polymers and to use it to establish structure/property relations leading to rational design of membranes with improved performance.

Ion sorption and permeability data were used to extract information about salt diffusion coefficients in charged membranes. Concentrations of both counter-ions and co-ions in the polymers were measured via desorption followed by ion chromatography or flame atomic absorption spectroscopy. Salt permeability, sorption and electrical conductivity data were combined to determine individual ion diffusion coefficients in neutral, cation exchange and anion exchange materials. The use of models to correlate and, in some cases, predict the experimental data is discussed.

BRIEF ACADEMIC/EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Benny Freeman is the Richard B. Curran Centennial Chair in Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor of Chemical Engineering and has been a faculty member for 25 years. He completed graduate training in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, earning a Ph.D. in 1988. In 1988 and 1989, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI), Laboratoire Physico-Chimie Structurale et Macromoléculaire in Paris, France.

RECENT RESEARCH INTERESTS

Dr. Freeman's research is in polymer science and engineering and, more specifically, in mass transport of small molecules in solid polymers.



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