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Highlight Seminar Series: Menachem Elimelech, Yale University

Date: 20131209

Time: 4:30 p.m. -

Location: Computer Science 104

Professor Menachem Elimelech, of Yale University, presents “Membrane-Based Processes at the Water-Energy Nexus” as part of the Andlinger Center’s 2013-2014 Highlight Seminar Series.

Membrane-based processes play a critical role in technologies for desalination and water purification, as well as emerging technologies for sustainable power generation from natural salinity gradients and waste heat.  This presentation will discuss three membrane processes based on “engineered osmosis” which play an important role at the water-energy nexus.  One of these technologies is reverse osmosis, which is being used extensively worldwide for seawater desalination. The energy efficiency, the state of the technology, and the environmental challenges of seawater desalination will be critically reviewed.  Another emerging process for water purification is forward osmosis. This process is driven by the natural flow of water through a semipermeable membrane based on osmotic pressure gradient, rather than through the application of hydraulic pressure.  Several applications of forward osmosis that enhance sustainability at the water-energy nexus will be discussed.  Lastly, pressure retarded osmosis, a sustainable emerging technology for capturing salinity gradient energy from saline waters, will be discussed. In addition to capturing energy from natural salinity gradients, pressure retarded osmosis combined with membrane distillation can produce energy from low-grade or waste heat through the generation of artificially created salinity gradients using synthetic solutions.

Menachem Elimelech is the Roberto Goizueta Professor at the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University. Professor Elimelech received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Hebrew University in Israel and PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in 1989 in Environmental Engineering. His research interests include (i) engineered osmosis for sustainable production of water and power, (ii) environmental applications of nanomaterials, (iii) membrane separations for desalination and water reuse, and (iv) water and sanitation in developing countries. Professor Elimelech was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2006 and was awarded the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize in 2005.  Professor Elimelech has advised 30 PhD students and 22 postdoctoral researchers, many of whom hold leading positions in academia and industry. In recognition of his excellence and dedication in teaching and mentoring, he received the W.M. Keck Foundation Engineering Teaching Excellence Award in 1994, the Yale University Graduate Mentor Award in 2004, and the Yale University Postdoctoral Mentoring Prize in 2012.