Polymer membrane technology is a mild, energy-efficient, sustainable and scalable separation technology applied in numerous industrial applications in water treatment, manure processing, the dairy, food and beverage industry and medical and chemical industries. Despite their widespread industrial production and application, the range of polymer materials used to make these membranes is limited to a selection of a few specific polymers only, although membrane chemistry highly impacts the ultimate membrane process performance. This becomes even more critical in the context of circularity with a strong focus on selective recovery and reuse as this requires true molecular selectivity.
In this lecture I discuss how membrane chemistry impacts membrane separation performance. Starting from the process of membrane formation, I will discuss how polymer chemistry can be used to design membranes with desired functionalities. Subsequently I will relate that to the membrane separation performance in different sustainable process applications.
With over 15 years of experience in the field of polymer membrane design, characterization and application, Kitty Nijmeijer leads the research group Membrane Materials and Processes at the Eindhoven University of technology. The group focuses on the fundamentals of membrane chemistry and morphology to control mass transport in macroscopic applications. It combines and integrates material science and process technology. Water and Energy are the main application areas with a strong focus on recovery and reuse of resources, the valorization of waste streams and energy efficient processes in the context of a sustainable circular economy.