News & Events

EVEN seminar: Next-generation membrane processes for sustainable power generation & water treatment

Monday, March 12, 2018, 9:00AM - 10:00AM


Anthony Straub

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Limited fresh water availability and a constrained energy supply are two of the most pressing global challenges. Emerging membrane technologies hold great promise for addressing both of these issues by producing water and energy in efficient, compact, and modular systems. In this presentation, novel membrane-based processes will be discussed that enable sustainable power generation from two untapped sources, low-grade heat and salinity gradient mixing.

Low-grade heat is widely available from industrial facilities, geothermal reservoirs, and solar collectors, but current technologies are unable to effectively convert this heat to electricity. To address this need, a new process is introduced that uses a thermal gradient across hydrophobic nanoporous membranes to drive a turbine and generate power. The first proof-of-concept study on this process will be highlighted, and further efforts to fabricate membranes for the system will be discussed. The second half of the presentation will focus on salinity gradient power generation, which harnesses the energy released when two solutions of different concentrations mix. Vast amounts of energy can potentially be harvested from the mixing of river water with higher-salinity sources such as seawater. The overall promise of power generation from salinity gradients will be analyzed using a combination of experimental characterization and theoretical modeling, and the most promising avenues for future development will be highlighted. The presentation will conclude by discussing technologies that can further address challenges at the water-energy nexus.


Anthony Straub holds a Ph.D. in Chemical & Environmental Engineering from Yale University, where he worked in the group of Prof. Menachem Elimelech. He received his bachelors degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also conducted research in the Department of Desalination & Water Treatment at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. Currently, Dr. Straub is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research uses a combination of experimental and theoretical techniques to study membrane-based processes at the water-energy nexus. He is broadly interested in topics such as desalination, advanced water treatment, and sustainable energy harvesting.


Free and open to the public.