Currently I am a postdoc fellow at SRI International, developing hollow fibers membranes with application in water desalination and CO2 capture. My current project is funded by DOE to capture CO2 from syngas. Syngas comes from gasification process and is a mixture of H2 and CO2. Our membrane which is based on polybenzimidazole (PBI) can stand at high temperature and harsh conditions and can separate H2 from CO2 at high temperature 150C > which saves energy and it is cheaper than other separation technologies.
Also because PBI is a durable polymer we were able to make new generation of hollow fiber membranes for water desalination at high temperature. The images shows the membrane separation in gasification process, fibers and the cross section from SEM.
Microfiltration membrane is a high-performance and cost-effective technology in water treatment, pharmaceutical, electrical, and beverage industries, which separates contaminants from the liquid media. The microfiltration membranes are porous polymers in the form of flat-sheets or hollow-fibers which retain contaminated particles, bacteria or viruses. Based on the desired separation, different pore-size, morphology and chemistry of microfiltration membranes are developed.
As a membrane development engineer working in a cross-functional team, I explored new product design (NPI) and executed characterization studies (bubble point, flux test, SEM, mechanical properties, wettability, leaching test, HPLC, GC) to optimize casting conditions, which result in the desire morphology/chemistry, flux and retention for a particular separation. I was involved in membrane development and manufacturing including preparation of 160-gallon polymer dope, start-up of a full-size membrane casting line, membrane post treatment and drying. Working on full-size membrane production line, I had the privilege to get experience in equipment maintenance, troubleshooting, and root cause analysis as well as working with QC and operators.
My Ph.D. thesis is about polymeric membranes for gas separation membranes. The gas separation membrane technology is a low-cost and easy to maintain technology. Physical aging and gas permeability/selectivity trade-off in polymers are the main challenges in polymeric gas separation membranes. I addressed the challenges in my Ph.D. research and developed an understanding of structure/property relation in polymers which helps researchers and engineers to rationally design high-performance gas separation membranes.
AKTA protein purification system is a common method to purify bio-molecules in pharma and bio-separation industries. My MS.c thesis was developing a a new process, Aqueous Two-Phase System (ATPS), to separate Protease enzyme from its media and compare the separation performance with AKTA purification. ATPS consists of a polymer rich phase coexisting with a salt solution. The protein partitions into the two phases according to the affnity to each of the phases. Since there are many factors affecting on the partitioning, Design of Experiment (DOE) was used to optimiz the number of the experiments. Thanks to a new AKTA system in the lab, I had the opportunity to set-up and run the system by myself. Also I gained experience in bacterial cultivation, preparing FPLC columns and enzyme assys.