The primary goal of the newly established laboratory headed by Dr. Roy Bernstein will be to investigate and broaden the knowledge and the use of material and polymer science in membrane synthesis for environmental and industrial applications. This will be accomplished using a multidisciplinary approach combining chemistry, materials and polymer science, surface science, environmental science and engineering and water treatment technologies.
The main interest in the coming years will be to develop and improve polymeric and mixed matrix membranes (hybrid organic inorganic membranes) with specific properties for various applications. This includes water filtration and desalination, pervaporation, solvent resistance nanofiltration, vapor-gas separation and pressure retarded osmosis. The membranes will be fabricated in-house including in a hollow fiber configuration which is a new ability in ZWIR (and in Israel). This will provide the maximum flexibility to obtain a membrane with desired properties which will be determined by the requirements of specific applications. The strategies for fabricating new membranes and modifying existing ones to achieve these properties will be driven by physicochemical and transport mechanism considerations. Hence, membrane development will be carried out alongside fundamental research on model systems having well defined characteristics. Furthermore, fabrication conditions of developed membranes will be optimized in an effort to allow scale-up of the developed membranes and their application. Such efforts will utilize the presence of the pilot plant in Sde-Boqer to carry out such initial scale-up studies.
Concurrently to researcha lecture-based course and a lab course on membrane materials will be developed. The course will combine fundamental science principles together with the latest scientific literature. The practical lab course will supplement the theoretical course so that the students will acquire a practical experiment in membrane preparation, characterization and application. The courses will provide students with tools which will help them to integrate in the expanding water industry and other fields where membranes are used.