From membrane material synthesis to fabrication and function (SynFabFun)

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Membranes offer exciting opportunities for more efficient, lower energy, more sustainable separations and even entirely new process options - and so are a valuable tool in an energy constrained world. However, high performance polymeric, inorganic and ceramic membranes all suffer from problems with decay in performance over time, through either membrane ageing (membrane material relaxation) and/or fouling (foreign material build-up in and/or on the membrane), and this seriously limits their impact.
Our vision is to create membranes which do not suffer from ageing or fouling, and for which separation functionality is therefore maintained over time. We will achieve this through a combination of the synthesis of new membrane materials and fabrication of novel membrane composites (polymeric, ceramic and hybrids), supported by new characterisation techniques.
Our ambition is to change the way the global membrane community perceives performance. Through the demonstration of membranes with immortal performance, we seek to shift attention away from a race to achieve ever higher initial permeability, to creation of membranes with long-term stable performance which are successful in industrial application.

Planned Impact

This project will have a significant impact on the academic and industrial membrane communities, through the development of 'immortal membranes'. These will overcome the problems and limitations of currently available membranes: loss of performance due to aging and fouling, the constant need to replace and dispose/recycle used membranes (representing a negative environmental impact compared to avoiding this altogether), and the lack of stable membranes for a wide range of industrially important applications. The next generation immortal membranes produced in this programme grant represent the key to unlocking the as yet unfulfilled green separations promise of membranes across a wide range of industries and applications. This will enable new products and services to be created that are currently not possible (such as self-healing ceramic membranes). Our state-of-the-art membrane fabrication processes, membranes and membrane characterisation techniques will also have direct benefit and impact on the academic community. So that this proposal is truly successful, our impact plan enables communication of outputs and engagement of stakeholders from membrane manufacturers through to membrane end users and the academic community.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Royal Society policy briefing document, "The potential and limitations of using carbon dioxide", Prof Ian Metcalfe contributor.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/low-carbon-energy-programme/potential-limitations-ca...
 
Description Royal Society policy briefing, "Options for producing low-carbon hydrogen at scale"
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/low-carbon-energy-programme/hydrogen-production/
 
Title Pressure relaxation 
Description Pressure change is used to look at surface exchange and diffusion in materials 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Generating high quality data for novel materials 
 
Description Advisory Board Meeting - Feb 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting of Advisory Board (AB) of industrialists and academics from UK, Europe and USA. Presentations given on progress of projects. Advice by AB given on future research directions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Advisory Board meeting - Feb 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting of Advisory Board (AB) of industrialists and academics from UK, Europe and USA. Presentations given on progress of projects. Advice by AB given on future research directions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description EPSRC showcase event - Science for a Succesful Nation 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An event organised by EPSRC to showcase its investments in research for benefits to UK society. The SynFabFun project was selected as one of the exhibits, and presented a display of membrane technology providing lower energy routes to material separation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://research.ncl.ac.uk/synfabfun/newsevents/synfabfunshowcasedatepsrc-scienceforasuccessfulnatio...
 
Description January 2017 Advisory Board Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting of the Advisory Board
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description LiveInTheLab - interviews with research group members 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Videos created and up-loaded to group Facebook site. Increased traffic on the site, with multiple views.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.facebook.com/AppIonTransport/
 
Description SynFabFun launch event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Launched the Programme Grant at Imperial College.

This was a full day focussed on engagement with interested industrialists which generated a lot of interaction.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015