475988 Membranes at the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Experimental and Modeling Approaches

Sunday, November 13, 2016
Continental 4 & 5 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Milad R.Esfahani, The Center for the Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources, Tennessee Technological Universsity, Cookeville, TN

Research Interests:

This poster will provide an overview of my computational and experimental research about the design and fabrications of different types of membrane (microfiltration, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and forward osmosis) at the water-Energy-Food Nexus. My Ph.D. dissertation focused on the application of polymeric nano-composite membranes (Mixed Matrix Membrane) to water purification. During the first part of my research, I worked on understanding the mechanism of natural organic matter (NOM) fouling on an ultrafiltration membrane by relating the operational viewpoint for fouling (macroscopic) to the microscopic viewpoint. Then, in the second part of my research, I used the power of nanoparticles to increase the antifouling properties of the polysulfone membrane. The mixture of titanium dioxide nanoparticles and multiwall carbon nanotube with the optimum mass ratio was embedded with the novel and simple method into the polymeric membrane and interestingly increased both the membrane permeability and rejection two times compared to the pure polysulfide membrane. Also, the nanocomposite membranes showed the higher antifouling behavior compared to the pure membrane at different operational conditions and flaunt physicochemical properties. In my post-doctoral research, I have continued to work on the membrane application for water treatment and energy production. Forward osmosis (FO) (also, pressure retarded osmosis) is a prime membrane technology of interest due to its potential for low energy use in water – energy nexus. The main goal of my post-doctoral project was investigation of effective parameters on transportation of water and solute molecules in forward osmosis membrane to improve FO membrane design and process efficiency. This project combines computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling with experimental fabrication of FO membranes to examine the assumptions imbedded in current transport equations and identify sources of inaccuracies in water flux predictions. This effort can lead us to the development of transport equations that can be used by all to support FO research, enabling the deployment of FO for real-world problem solving with economically competitive performance. Based on my knowledge of membranes, instrumentation design and componential fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling, my future research will focus on both experimental and modeling aspects of membrane technology issues for the water – energy –food nexus. In details, I plan to mainly focus my academic career on parallel research area of the computational modeling and experimental synthesis, modification and fabrication of different types of novel mixed matrix membranes for using at different connected interdisciplinary areas at the water – energy – food nexuses.

Some research areas that I plan to pursue in my first five years as an Assistant Professor:

Membrane fouling mitigation** Forward osmosis and pressure retarded osmosis design, surface modification and characterization**Mixed matrix ultrafiltration/microfiltration**Nanomaterials environmental safety: transport and fate of nanomaterials

Teaching Interests:

My first preference would be to teach the chemical engineering core courses, such as Transport Phenomena and Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. However, since my background and previous experience is diverse, I am flexible to handle other courses within the University Chemical Engineering Curriculum. Additionally I would like (provided the opportunity is given) to develop new courses, as the special topics, including topics of water / wastewater treatment, membrane technology and environmental science.


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