Dr Harry Ridgway on Water, Membranes, and Desalination: Open Questions and Unsolved Problems, Rockingham, 23 October 2012

Posted on 3 October 2012

Dr Harry Ridgway, Consulting Professor Stanford University, Visiting Professor KAUST, Saudi Arabia and founder of AquaMem Scientific Consultants, a private consulting and research enterprise dedicated to the science and technology of water treatment by membrane processes. Dr Ridgway is an internationally respected authority on the structure and function of permselective membranes for water treatment applications, including seawater desalination and water reuse. Dr Ridgway has hosted a number of speciality seminars/workshops in molecular simulations for water treatment applications and biological fouling of membranes and has co-authored more than 50 publications and book chapters.

Tuesday 23 October 2012
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia
Murdoch University Rockingham Campus
Dixon Road, Rockingham WA 6168

There is no charge for this event. Drinks and canapés will be served.

RSVP: Telephone (08) 9360 7171 or email rsvp@desalination.edu.au
by Friday 19 October 2012.

Water, Membranes, and Desalination: Open Questions and Unsolved Problems

Dr Harry Ridgway
Consulting Professor, Stanford University, USA
Visiting Professor, Water Desalination and Reuse Center, King Abdullah
University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Desalination and water reuse by membrane-based processes have in recent years emerged as primary conduits for providing fresh water and improved sanitation to water-stressed regions around the planet. Despite our increasing reliance on these processes, there are still important gaps in our knowledge regarding how they actually work and these knowledge voids are now limiting our ability to fully realize the potential of these keystone technologies. For example, although the solution-diffusion theory developed nearly 50 years ago provides a robust theoretical platform for comprehending and quantifying water flux and solute rejection of reverse osmosis membranes, the real molecular basis of water movement into and through a permselective membrane remains nebulous and has only recently begun to be accessed by powerful analytical and simulations techniques. In addition, the question of how microbial biofilms developing on membrane surfaces interfere with the separation process has not been satisfactorily resolved despite continuous efforts to do so over the past 35 years. For example, precisely how the biofilm matrix that is comprised of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) contributes to the transmembrane pressure drop and loss of solute rejection largely remains a mystery. More specifically, what is the mechanism by which the EPS matrix actually generates nanoscale fluid resistance? As a consequence of these and related gaps in our knowledge, the unwanted accumulation of microorganisms and biologically-derived macromolecules on membrane surfaces remains the most widespread and yet least predictable form of membrane fouling; and it continues to undermine the efficient performance of even the most advanced membrane materials being developed today. In this presentation, some of the still unresolved questions relating to membrane separations for water treatment applications will be explored. In addition, how solutions to some of these scientific and technical challenges can be exploited to enhance the sustainability and energy optimization of desalination and water reuse will be addressed.

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