The energy and feedstock demand increased continuously in the last decade due to the increase in the global human population. Given the projected increase in the global human population to 9.7 billion in 2050, the requirement for more energy and raw materials will undoubtedly increase. We are in a transition phase towards renewables, in which industries based on fossil chemicals and the oil refining industry still play an essential role. The oil refining industry is the world's third-largest stationary emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing 6% of all industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, will need to adopt new strategies to improve refinery efficiency, potentially reducing cumulative global emissions. The membrane technology is a sustainable approach that can partially replace the conventional separation processes currently used in the petrochemical industry because it has better energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint.
Highly selective and stable membranes are essential for the success of effective separation processes. The talk will focus on how to use new materials and conventional membrane fabrication techniques such as phase inversion, thermal crosslinking, and interfacial polymerization we can obtain membranes with tunable selectivity for one of the most challenging chemical separations: the fractionation of crude oil.
Stefan Chisca is a research scientist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the group of Prof. Suzana Nunes. He studied Chemistry during his bachelor's and received his Ph.D. degree in 2012 from Romanian Academy in polymer chemistry. His research interests focus on (1) synthesizing processable polymeric materials based on polytriazoles, polyether ether ketone ether, and other heterocyclic polymers (polyimides and polyoxadiazole) with high thermal and chemical stability, (2) developing new nanostructure architectures starting from block-copolymers self-assembly and obtaining polymeric structures with functional groups, (3) understanding the fundamental aspects in terms of structure-relation properties for applying for industrial feedstock. He uses the synthesized materials to develop membranes by conventional methods, for energy-efficient separation processes: from solvent purification to crude oil fractionation and from protein purification and chiral separation to produce drinking water.