Issuu on Google+

Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center (MAST) The Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology (MAST) Center advances membrane technology in separation processes through research and development, promotes education in membrane science and engineering, and provides effective technology transfer between the center and its industrial sponsors. Headquartered at CU for more than 20 years, fundamental and applied center research has led to major advancements in membrane materials and membrane separation processes in established as well as emerging areas including energy production, water treatment, pharmaceutical purification, and chemical processing that will ultimately benefit the environment and public health. As one of NSF’s longest-running Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC), the MAST Center is well along in its current phase as a multi-university center, with New Jersey Institute of Technology serving as the lead site. Center researchers from CU and NJIT also collaborate with researchers from several other schools including Colorado State University, University of Arkansas, Clemson University, and Ben Gurion University. The center has succeeded in drawing researchers from diverse fields including biological, chemical, physical, and materials sciences; health and pharmaceutical sciences; and aeronautical, chemical, civil, environmental, mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.

MAST Center Directors: Alan Greenberg and Richard Noble Professor Alan Greenberg received his PhD in biomedical engineering from Drexel University. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and recently served as a technical expert for the Singapore Environment and Water Industry Development Council. His 30 years of research experience at CU includes the formation, characterization, and performance of membranes, mechanical properties of materials in bulk and thin-film form, and physical and mechanical behavior of biological materials. Greenberg’s research has pioneered innovative real-time techniques for nondestructive measurement of material performance, including the use of ultrasound for monitoring membrane fouling, compaction and morphology. In addition, his work has successfully utilized an integrated modeling and experimental approach that has led to first-principles models that describe important membrane formation processes.

Professor Richard Noble is the Alfred T. and Betty E. Look Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has more than 20 years of experience in the modeling and analysis of membrane and other thin film systems that include diffusive transport and chemical reaction. Noble is the country’s leading researcher in the modeling and experimental implementation of facilitated transport membranes. His expertise includes the modeling and use of pH, electrical and photon fields to obtain solute separation and concentration. Professor Noble is an internationally recognized leader in the use of novel membrane and thin film materials, including zeolites and ionic liquids, for chemical separations. He holds more than 20 patents and has authored more than 260 research publications, including 11 textbooks and monographs.

Recent Highlights MAST Center faculty Scott Bunch and John Pellegrino, along with CU graduate students, have produced the first experimental results showing that atomically thin graphene membranes with tiny pores can effectively and efficiently separate gas molecules through sizeselective sieving. The findings are a major step toward more energy-efficient membranes for natural gas production and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plant effluent.


u Wei Zhang and Rich Noble were awarded a two-year NSF I/UCRC Fundamental Research Supplemental Opportunity award, entitled “Efficient Molecular Separation Using Polymeric Membranes Integrated with Novel Structure-Tunable Organic Nanocages.” This research allows extension of the synthesis of a new type of organic cage structure to new applications. This novel material platform has potential for a number of important chemical separation issues, including carbon dioxide separation and olefin/paraffin separation.

ION Engineering, LLC is a new CU spin-off company commercializing ionic liquid separation processes developed by Richard Noble and Douglas Gin. It was awarded a three-year, $4M research grant from DOE to conduct benchscale testing of an amine-based solvent that employs an ionic liquid instead of water as the physical solvent, greatly reducing regeneration energy while lowering process water usage.


u Alan Greenberg, with colleagues from Ben Gurion University in Israel and Hashemite University in Jordan, secured a three-year award from the NATO Science for Peace Program and a one-year award from the Middle East Desalination Research Center. Their work utilizes sensor technology developed in the MAST Center for a new desalination process to produce potable water from inland brackish water sources. The technology is currently being tested on pilot-scale facilities with expectations for subsequent commercialization.

Research Sponsors & Member Companies

MAST Research Projects

The MAST Center currently has nine sponsors from industry, federal agencies, and universities. The center has a $800K base funding commitment from the National Science Foundation’s I/UCRC program. Member companies join as research sponsors and are represented on the Center’s Industrial Advisory Board (IAB). Through their voting rights, member companies select, monitor, and mentor center research projects, which reflect the current needs and interests of sponsors. The combination of NSF funding, sponsor support, and funding for spin-off projects currently provides approximately $2.4M per year in research funding.

Projects are focused in four fundamental research areas:

Member Companies u

Boulder Ionics


EMD Millipore Corporation


Electronic Power Research Institute

u Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) u

Novarials Corporation

u National Renewable Energy Laboratory u

Pall Corporation


W.L. Gore & Associates

u Membrane characterization: Use of existing methodology and development of new techniques to quantify membrane structure, properties, function, and durability.

u United States Bureau of Reclamation

Faculty Scott J. Bunch

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering. Fabrication and characterization of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) from atomically thin membranes such as graphene-single atomic layers of graphite.

Yifu Ding

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering. Structure of dynamics of glass formers, fabrication and characterization of nanostructured materials, stability and instability of polymer nanostructures, inelastic light/ neutron scattering spectroscopy, nanoimprint lithography.

u Membrane materials: Optimal materials for a wide range of membrane applications that utilize different chemical, temperature, and pressure conditions.

u Membrane formation: Fabrication of membranes to obtain structures and properties that provide optimal results.


Se-Hee Lee

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering. Nanostructured materials for energy applications, thin-film deposition (evaporation, sputtering, PE-CVD, sol-gel synthesis), electrooptic characterization, AC impedance spectroscopy and electrochemical deposition and analyses techniques.

u Membrane performance: Generation of optimal performance from membrane-based separation processes by mitigating time-dependent phenomena such as compaction and fouling, as well as other long-term compositional and structural changes.

Richard D. Noble

Current projects include: u

Real-time Single Molecule Imaging of Proteins on Polymer Surfaces

Alfred T. and Betty E. Look Professor, Co-Director MAST, Chemical and Biological Engineering. Reversible chemical complexation for separations, mass transfer, mathematical modeling, membranes, thin films.


Effect of Microporous Membrane Properties on Fractionation


Graphene Mixed-Matrix TFC Membranes


Magnetic Field Effect on Ionic Solutions


Micromechanical Model of Polymeric Membrane Pleating

Melvin and Virginia Clark Professor, University of Colorado President’s Teaching Scholar. Inorganic membranes, heterogeneous catalysis, photocatalysis, solar cells, and applications of atomic and molecular layer deposition to catalysts and membranes.

John Pellegrino


Location of Biological Foulants Within a Wet Membrane Structure


Novel Thin Composite Membranes for Efficient CO2 Capture


Ionic Liquids for Use in Ethylene/Ethane Gas Separations


Efficient Molecular Separation Using Polymeric Membranes

Douglas Gin

Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering. Polymer science, liquid crystal engineering and nanomaterials chemistry.

Department Chair and Alfred and Betty Look Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering. Interfacial phenomena, biomolecules at interfaces, surface modification, nanoscale materials.

Alan R. Greenberg

Wei Zhang

John Falconer

Professor, Executive Director, Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center, Mechanical Engineering. Physical and mechanical behavior of polymeric materials, membranes and thin-films, realtime techniques for nondestructive

Research Professor, Mechanical Engineering. Modification, formation, characterization, and performance of membranes, electrokinetic processes, water treatment and supply, biomassto-fuels process development.

Daniel K. Schwartz

Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry. Organic synthesis and physical chemistry for molecular design of novel functional materials, gas separation/storage, solar energy conversion, chemical sensing and catalysis.

A New Ceramic Membrane for Gas Separation and Organic Solvent Recovery u

u Ionic Liquid Based Membranes and Electrolytes for Advanced Batteries u Exploration of the Influence of Microporous Membrane Properties on Membrane Distillation Performance u Novel Membranes for Recovering Water-Soluble Fuels and FuelIntermediates from Fermentation Broths

More Information Alan Greenberg

CU Director — MAST Center Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Colorado Boulder 432 UCB Boulder, CO 80309-0432 303-492-4614

Kurt Maute

Associate Dean for Research Joseph Negler Endowed Professor College of Engineering and Applied Science University of Colorado Boulder 422 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0422 303-735-2103

Molly Riddell

Manager of Large Proposals College of Engineering and Applied Science University of Colorado Boulder 422 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0422 303-492-9108

Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center (MAST) - CU-Boulder Engineering Research