Securing adequate, sustainable supplies of energy and water at affordable costs is an enormous challenge facing humanity. Due to the interconnected relationship between these two critical resources, often termed the Water-Energy Nexus, a shortcoming in one could negatively impact the availability of the other. Technologies based on polymeric materials (e.g., membranes and sorbents) will play a key role in addressing our water and energy needs due to their efficiency, simplicity, and small footprint. The success of such technologies hinges on developing new materials with improved functionality. However, despite a longstanding academic and industrial interest in this area, significant fundamental and practical challenges remain.
The Kamcev research group aims to develop next-generation polymeric materials (e.g., membranes and sorbents) for water treatment and energy generation/storage applications. We will implement an integrative approach based on materials synthesis, advanced characterization, and modeling to design new polymeric materials that overcome the limitations of existing materials. We will synthesize polymers with precisely controlled structures, characterize their properties, evaluate their performance in real systems, and, when appropriate, use models to infer rational connections between molecular structure and performance. The fundamental knowledge generated by this approach will guide subsequent design of materials with enhanced functionality. Emphasis will be placed on improving the fundamental understanding of solute transport in polymers in aqueous and non-aqueous systems and developing structure/property guidelines for the rational design of high-performance polymeric materials with properties specifically tailored for a given application to achieve desired separation goals with minimal energy usage.
More information about specific projects is forthcoming.