Multifunctional Electroreactive Membranes for Efficient Biomass SEnvironmental Protection AgencyrationsThis collaborative research project, involving the New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of Illinois-Chicago, and George Washington University, will address a key research issue to enable the production of fuels and chemical products from biomass resources such as algae. Alga microorganisms are cultivated in fermenters, often in dilute concentration in an aqueous phase. Dewatering of the biomass or algae and recycle and reuse of the cleaned-up water are key fundamental research issues that impact commercial competitiveness. The PIs will research and design efficient, scalable, and multifunctional reactive electrochemical membranes (REMs) to harvest value-added products derived from the biomass (e.g., biofuels and specialty chemicals) in a sustainable manner. Biomass sEnvironmental Protection Agencyration using membrane filtration is currently characterized by high operational cost due to severe membrane fouling and the need for frequent backwashing to remove the foulants. The proposed research will use the hybrid membranes to mitigate membrane fouling and to remove the toxic inhibitors that will promote water reuse. The research outcomes will advance the fundamental science and engineering of biomass sEnvironmental Protection Agencyrations, and potentially lead to critical, traNational Science Foundation ormative technologies for biomass and food processing, drinking water treatment, and biomolecule purification in the pharmaceutical industries. This principal investigators will use algae as a model biomass organism; and will focus on characterizing membrane fouling, water reuse for algae regrowth, and electrochemical pre-treatment of algal cells. Research tasks will include (1) synthesis and characterization of a suite of tailored monolithic or nanofibrous REMs for algal recovery; (2) evaluation of algae sEnvironmental Protection Agencyration efficiency, permeate water treatment, and anti-fouling properties of REMs; (3) elucidation of algae cell disruption efficiency and the underlying mechanisms of electrochemical oxidation using microfluidic experiments; and (4) experimental and theoretical assessment of membrane fouling and regeneration strategies. The fundamental knowledge generated by this project will lead to traNational Science Foundation ormative solutions that address the grand challenges at the energy-water nexus. First, the research will provide fundamental guidelines to the design of REMs with excellent filtration performance, flexible design, and durability of operation. Secondly, the research will promote water and nutrient reuse in waste streams or cultivation media, which reduces the water and energy footprints of renewable energy production. Finally, the project will train and mentor at least three Ph.D. students and a large number of undergraduate and senior high school students that will be recruited from underrepresented groups in STEM at the three collaborating institutions for research experiences.
|Effective start/end date
|9/1/16 → 8/31/19
- National Science Foundation
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