Location: Queen Mary University of London, London, UKPositions: 2 PhD positions

Location: London, UK

Institution: Queen Mary University of London

Supervisor: Professor Andrew Livingston

School: Division of Chemical Engineering and Renewable Energy, School of Engineering and Materials Science

Project: Advanced Membranes from Poly Aryl Ether Ketones

Sponsor: Evonik Industries AG

Application Deadline: 30-01-2022

Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN) separates molecules present in solutions of organic solvents. In OSN, a pressure gradient is applied across a solvent stable nanoporous film, inducing transport of liquid across the film. Depending on relative permeation rates, molecular species in a feed liquid stream can be concentrated and separated. Typically OSN will use a small fraction of the energy of thermal methods such as evaporation and distillation, and can work at temperatures around ambient. These advantages have led to a huge surge in interest in OSN technology in the past few years, and a rapidly increasing number of commercial applications.

The key challenges in fabricating membranes for OSN include ensuring solvent stability, controlling molecular selectivity, and building in robustness in the form of resistance to physical aging.

This project will focus on membranes formed by phase inversion processes from polymer-solvent mixtures, using poly-ether-ether-ketone (PEEK) as starting point. PEEK is stable in nearly all organic solvents and resists physical aging well due to its semicrystalline structure. It is an ideal polymer for OSN membranes, and this project will seek methods for membrane fabrication from PEEK. The aim will be to prepare PEEK membranes with controlled selectivities that can separate solutes in the range 500 – 5,000 g mol-1. These membranes will be prepared first as small size bench cast materials, and then fabrication will be developed as a roll-to-roll process. To control selectivity, PEEK membranes will be post treated by annealing at elevated temperatures to tune the pore sizes. The industrial sponsor, Evonik Industries AG, is a world leading membrane producer and the project student will be based in Livingston Group at Queen Mary and will work closely with colleagues at Evonik.

This studentship is open international and UK students. To apply follow link: https://www.sems.qmul.ac.uk/research/studentships/398/advanced-peek-membranes

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