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Aquaporin-Copolymer Membranes for High-Throughput, Selective Water Purification

photo: din cropped from Flickr

Andrew Spakowitz, Chemical Engineering; Curtis Frank, Chemical Engineering; Elizabeth Sattely, Chemical Engineering; Michael Toney, SLAC; Eric Appel, Materials Science & Engineering

This research project represents a new collaborative effort among the research labs of professors Andrew Spakowitz, Curtis Frank, Elizabeth Sattely, and SLAC National Laboratory Distinguished Staff Scientist Michael Toney to produce a novel water-purification membrane. This project will allow the development of a membrane system that incorporates transmembrane proteins into a porous polymer membrane to generate a low-cost and highly selective material that is suitable for high-throughput water purification. This effort leverages complementary expertise in membrane synthesis, theoretical modeling, and structural characterization to establish a novel material platform that combines the exquisite selectivity of protein channels with the mechanical integrity and low cost of conventional polymer membranes. These multidisciplinary approaches will be closely linked in a feedback process of modeling, synthesizing, and characterizing the proposed protein-polymer material. Water purification plays a critical role in the energy pipeline as well as in food, health, and the environment; therefore, the development of a low-cost water-purification membrane could be tremendously impactful.


Awarded 2016