According to the UN, approximately half of people on Earth are currently experiencing severe water scarcity for some part of the year. In the coming years, climate change is projected to exacerbate water scarcity and water quality issues. To build a sustainable, circular water economy, advanced separation processes are critical. In our group, we work to develop fundamental understanding of the relationships between materials, separation processes, and environmental and economic costs. We leverage this understanding to design processes that secure water supply, enable resource recovery, and remove or remediate water contaminants.
Membrane Contactor Processes
Membrane contactor processes can enable selective and efficient removal or recovery of water and other constituents from mixed streams, via phase separation. Material design is critical to achieve high performance. In our work, we elucidate relationships between material properties and performance at environmental conditions to design robust membranes and processes that can be used to extract water and other valuable products from challenging waste streams.
McGaughey, A. L., Karandikar, P., Gupta, M., & Childress, A. E. (2020). Hydrophobicity versus pore size: polymer coatings to improve membrane wetting resistance for membrane distillation. ACS Applied Polymer Materials, 2(3), 1256-1267.
McGaughey, A. L., Gustafson, R. D., & Childress, A. E. (2017). Effect of long-term operation on membrane surface characteristics and performance in membrane distillation. Journal of Membrane Science, 543, 143-150.
Material Design for Separations
Advanced materials can enable more efficient and selective separations and remediation of challenging contaminants. In our research, we work to understand how fabrication methods impact material properties that determine performance, while considering commercial scalability and performance at environmental conditions -- factors that are sometimes overlooked for novel materials. We integrate material design with performance characterization to develop separation processes for water treatment, resource recovery, and environmental remediation applications.