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Design of Hydrophilic Metal-Organic Frameworks Functionalized Nanofiltration Membranes

KU Leuven

1 or 2 semesters

The objective of the project is the development of modified poly(ether)sulfone (PES) nanofiltration (NF) membranes by a combination of chemical hydrophilisation and the addition of TiO2 nanoparticles.

Project description

The objective of the project is the development of TFN  nanofiltration (NF) membranes synthesized through interfacial polymerization, and modified by the incorporation of e.g., metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Interfacial polymerization (IP) is a technique that has been widely applied to prepare NF membranes. However, commercial thin film composite (TFC) NF membranes made in this way suffer from a low water permeability and low mono/bivalent salt selectivity. In addition, it is difficult to obtain a satisfactory reduction of membrane fouling by using unmodified TFC membranes. The presence of interconnected micropores and/or selective interfacial voids in a selective layer is considered to be crucial for making highly permeable membranes. Thus, the project focuses on the use of porous nanofillers to create additional intrinsic molecular transport channels within the polyamide layer. Furthermore, attributing to a high polymer affinity, the use of porous MOFs is thought to suppress the likelihood of non-selective interfacial defects, while simultaneously enhancing the intrinsic microporosity and interconnectivity. With the incorporation of hydrophilic MOFs, low fouling properties of the modified membranes will be reinforced by improved surface hydrophilicity.  
Membranes synthesized in this way and in other ways are tested in key applications for  high mono/bivalent salt selectivity and purification of (waste)water.

The project is available in the Fall and Spring semester.

Number of places available: 2 per semester.

Pre requisites

  • Background in chemistry/chemical engineering/materials engineering/environmental engineering.

Faculty Department

Department of Chemical Engineering, research group ProcESS (Process Engineering for Sustainable Systems). Current research projects in the group are focused on membrane technology and process intensification in chemical and environmental engineering. Supported by integration in running Master and PhD projects, this project will allow studying membranes in every stage from manufacturing to application. All equipment is available in the lab.

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