September - Special Seminar

Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
MIT Department of Chemical Engineering 

Molecular Level Design of Polymers and MOFs for Energy-Efficient Separations

The chemical and petrochemical industries consume nearly 30% of global energy use, nearly half of which is a result of chemical separations. Therefore, a significant need exists to identify more efficient, productive, and environmentally friendly processes that operate in a continuous fashion. One attractive possibility is membrane-based separations, but significant materials challenges exist in designing membranes that can selectively distinguish between molecules with sub-angstrom differences in size and nearly identical thermodynamic properties. To survey these challenges and describe emerging opportunities, a brief overview of the current state-of-the-art in membrane-based materials and applications will be presented. Next, design strategies will be presented for overcoming current materials limitations by using new polymers and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that have unprecedented solubility and diffusion selectivities. Using a combination of techniques from chemical synthesis, materials characterization, and transport characterization, the aim of this presentation is to highlight the exciting interdisciplinary opportunities for scientists and engineers to tackle global challenges in chemical separations today.

Zachary P. Smith is an Assistant Professor and the Joseph R. Mares Career Development Chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his undergraduate training in Chemical Engineering from the Penn State Schreyer Honors College and his graduate training in Chemical Engineering under the guidance of Profs. Benny Freeman and Don Paul at the University of Texas at Austin. His postdoctoral training was in Inorganic Chemistry with Prof. Jeff Long at the University of California, Berkeley. Prof. Smith’s research focuses on the rational design, synthesis, and characterization of polymers and porous materials for clean technology applications related to energy-efficient separations.

G20 Lecture Theater, Chemical & Biomolecular Building (165). Map Link