This project is to develop and characterize a new class of chemically resistant Molecular Sieve Inclusion Nanocomposite (MoSIN) membranes for liquid separations. These MoSIN membranes will incorporate selective molecular sieve nanoparticles into barrier-polymeric thin films for osmotic and pervaporation applications. This is a new research direction that leverages the Dr. Lind's extensive experience with synthesis and characterization of zeolite-polyamide nanocomposite reverse osmosis membranes and the extensive research facilities available at Arizona State University. Lind will perform experiments to isolate the intrinsic transport properties of the components of model mixed-matrix membrane systems. She will couple fabrication experiments with rigorous characterization to elucidate the impact of fabrication conditions on MoSIN membranes, material structure, and liquid separation properties. Unlike traditional polymeric liquid filtration membranes, the design does not require the polymer matrix to have liquid permeability; this enables the use of a broader spectrum of polymers. A unique aspect of the membrane design concept is that the molecular sieve nanoparticles will penetrate the thickness of the barrier polymeric film, avoiding problems with polymeric blocking of the molecular sieve pores. This new paradigm in membrane design will enable the MoSIN membranes to be processed as polymers.
The MoSIN membrane concept represents a new paradigm in liquid separation technology to develop a robust membrane for liquid separations. This concept is applicable to reverse osmosis, forward osmosis, micro and nanofiltration, pervaporation for biofuel recovery, and should be extendable to gas separations. The overall goal of the educational activities of the project is to integrate the research, focused on sustainable engineering solutions for water and energy production, with education of students at multiple stages in the scientific pipeline from K-12 students to graduate students. To do this,Dr. Lind will develop a new six-week summer teacher-internship program for K-12 teachers. In this program Lind and her students will work with one teacher per year from a local school. Together they will develop new teaching modules relating concepts from the research to the grade-appropriate skills taught in the classroom. They will visit the teacher's science classroom during the academic year to facilitate implementation of the newly developed module. Dr. Lind will also collaborate with the Science is Fun program at Arizona State University to disseminate the water-filtration experiment she has developed to a large, diverse group of middle and high school students throughout the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.