Research Project Full Title: CAREER: Bioinspired Artificial Channel Water Treatment Membranes
Principal Investigator(s): Manish Kumar, PI
Researchers: Woochul Song
Sponsor(s): National Science Foundation
Full Abstract: The technical goal of this project is to design and synthesize a new class of membranes based on peptide-appended pillararene channels. The central hypothesis of the proposed work is: Solvent compatible channels will enable the scalable synthesis of practical ultra-permeable channel-based membranes. The scientific research objectives of the program are: 1) Understand the effect of angstrom-scale pore properties of diameter, hydrophobicity, and charge, on selectivity and water permeability using model peptide-appended pillararene channels; 2) Explore the compatibility of peptide-appended pillararene channels with block copolymer membranes and use this knowledge to maximize channel packing; and, 3) Correlate the structure and transport properties of peptide-appended pillararene block copolymer membranes. The tunable pore size will allow application of these membranes across critical areas of water treatment and reuse including: 1) drinking water treatment, 2) brackish water and seawater desalination, and, 3) wastewater reuse. The compact nature of membrane technology will allow its implementation in decentralized treatment as well as in low footprint centralized treatment in dense urban areas. Overall, given the increasing pressure on water sources and the interconnectedness of energy, food, and water operations, success in the proposed program can have a significant impact on the food-energy-water nexus. The proposed program will utilize bioinspired membranes and their connection to water transport in natural systems, such as plants and the human body, to engage diverse students at all levels (K-12 though graduate) in multidisciplinary research and education activities.