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Polymeric membranes.

Research on synthetic membranes at McMaster has grown steadily over the past nine years with strong cooperation between the chemical engineering and chemistry departments. Several projects in the areas of transport in membranes and membrane fabrication are on going, spanning the range of reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, and pervaporation. Currently five faculty, a research associate, two postdoctoral fellows, two research technicians, and four graduate students are working on membrane projects. Funding comes from the federal and provincial governments, and from private industry. In chemical engineering, we are studying existing membranes for the separation of organics and inorganics from water, and design of membrane systems using RO membranes. These results are analyzed and interpreted using mathematical models for transport in polymeric membranes. Design of MF modules is being investigated with a student working at Zenon Environmental Burlington, Ont.) under the guidance of Dickson and Dr. P. Cote. These projects have obvious applications to environmental separation problems. The membrane making research is being done with R.F. Childs, FCIC, B.E. McCarry, FCIC, and M.A. Brook, MCIC, in chemistry and Dickson. Fabrication, characterization, and surface modification is emphasized in developing polymeric membranes. Thin-film composite membranes are fabricated by the interfacial polymerization of monomers on the surface of a porous support membrane; including a photolabile mobile group in one of the membranes allows subsequent modification of the membrane surface properties, hence influencing membrane performance flux and separation).

In pervaporation, separation is effected by passing a liquid feed over the membrane surface and drawing a vacuum on the permeate (pervaporate) side of the membrane. Pervaporation membranes are being synthesized as a composite membrane with the top layer being an organosilicone derivative. Removal of chlorohydrocarbons is being investigated with the membrane preferentially transporting the minor component, the hydrocarbon, and producing an environmentally-clean retentate.

We anticipate continued growth in this area over the next few years. New areas of research being considered include facilitated transport membranes, supported liquid membranes, gas separation, and inorganic membranes.
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Author:Dickson, James M.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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