Polymer Membrane Processes

Most polymer membranes for water filtration are made by a phase inversion process, such as immersion precipitation, solvent evaporation, or thermal-induced phase separation. These processes can form a wide variety of membrane structures, membrane structure in turn determines properties such as permeability, selectivity and strength. Unfortunately, the mechanisms of structure formation are largely unknown, making membrane engineering a process of trial and error. Opennovation Principal Adam Powell's phase field modeling capabilities can predict many aspects of membrane structure, such as the presence and thickness of a skin layer.

More broadly, simulations of polymer conformation dynamics during processing can improve understanding of its effects on resulting polymer structure. For example, shear during extrusion or injection molding leads to localized orientation of the polymer, which later produces residual stress in the polymer part. Powell's simulations can capture some of these effects, and help to improve design of polymer parts.


  1. B. Zhou and A. Powell, "Phase Field Simulations of Liquid-Liquid Demixing During Immersion Precipitation of Polymeric Membranes in 2D and 3D," J. Membrane Sci. 268(2):150-164 (2006).
  2. B. Zhou and A. Powell, "Polymeric Membrane Formation by Immersion Precipitation: Liquid-Liquid Demixing," MRS Symp. Proc., 790 P7.10 (December, 2003). (Won best poster award)

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