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The research into membranes at IFM has focused on tackling the chronic water shortage in Australia, aiming to develop novel nano-filtration membrane of high efficiency and high selectivity. We started research into new membranes including metallic, organic, inorganic, and composite membranes. The research has been enhanced with the commencement of the Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) program and through collaboration with Victoria University.
(Dr Li He, Dr Leonora Velleman, Dr Ludovic Dumée, Dr Fengshua She, Weiwei Cong, Bao Lin, Guang Wang, Prof. Lingxue Kong)
(Velleman et al., Journal of Membrane Science, 2010; Dumée et al. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2012)
Nano-porous gold membranes: Commercially available white gold leaves (50Au:50Ag) are de-alloyed to reveal a random network of pores (~ 20 nm in diameter). The de-alloyed gold films are ~100 nm thick allowing for fast transport across the membrane.
Porous copper membranes: Copper/zinc thin films were also de-alloyed to produce low cost nano-porous membranes. The zinc metal is preferentially etched away under reducing conditions and solubilized revealing the copper matrix of the alloy.
Nano-porous metal membranes were also prepared from the sintering of mixed metal nano-particles with a sacrificial template leading to highly versatile porosities and pore size distribution. These thin porous layers were then sintered onto thicker metal nano-fibre meshes formed by the reduction of metal salts rich electrospun nano-fibres.
The group is dedicated to the integration and continuous growth of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) into porous nano-structures, including carbon nanotube and metal substrates.
Through this work we are aiming to provide to the fragile and discrete MOF crystals strong and versatile templates for enhanced gas separation performance.
A composite carbon nanotube metal organic framework membrane.
Recently, graphene oxide (GO) membranes have proven to be an excellent material for water filtration because they are completely impermeable to gases such as hydrogen while allowing unimpeded permeation of water vapour.
However, these membranes are fragile and cracks can develop easily since GO can readily disperse in water through solvation of surface carboxylic groups.
Polymer-based nano-composites have been the subject of increased interest in recent decades because of their enhanced properties arising from the reinforcement of fillers. The dispersion of the nano-fillers within the polymer matrix has significant influence on the properties of the composite.
Our group fabricates GO based composite membranes with excellent mechanical stability, high water flux and salt rejection.
The development of synthesis methods for pinhole free, mechanically stable, inorganic-organic hybrid membranes that combine advantages of both inorganic and organic membranes, is attracting a great deal of interest.
We are developing these mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) by mixing different inorganic materials, such as carbon nanotubes, zeolite, grapheme and metal-organic frameworks into polysulfones, polyarylates, polycarbonates, poly(arylethers), poly(arylketones) and polyimides for gas separation and water purification. The goal of the project is to design and manufacture MMMs to improve gas or water flux while maintaining other properties.
(He et al, 2011 Nanoscale Research Letters 6(637)
Making a mixed matrix membrane using polymer/nano-particle solvent casting. Water or gas molecules can diffuse at the interface between the polymer matrix and the nano-particles to give a membrane with enhanced flow properties.
Dr. Li He, Dr. Ludovic Dumée, Mr Bao Lin, Prof. Lingxue Kong
The group is investigating novel desalination technologies including capacitive deionisation, membrane distillation and membrane evaporation by using advanced functional graphene and metal membranes.
Dr. Li He, Dr. Ludovic Dumée, Prof. Ling Xue Kong
The team is involved across a number of projects related to a number of Australian Synchrotron beamlines including powder diffraction, X-ray spectroscopy and small/wide angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS). Recent work demonstrated that SAXS can be used to characterise alignment of nano-particles, pore shape and distribution as well as resolving the diffusion mechanisms across micro-porous materials.
Ludovic Dumée, Kallista Sears, Stephen Mudie, Nigel Kirby, Chris Skourtis, Jill Mcdonnell, Stuart Lucas, Jürg Schütz, Niall Finn, Chi Huynh, Stephen Hawkins, Lingxue Kong, Peter Hodgson, Mikel Duke, Stephen Gray (2013), Carbon In Press