Dr. Xianshe Feng
Xianshe Feng is a Professor and Chair of University Research within the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. His research expertise lies in the area of membrane science and technology, with a specialization in membrane formation and characterization, transport studies, module design and process development.
Professor Feng’s current research projects include: the development of hollow fiber membranes and membrane modules; synthesis, modification and characterization of asymmetric/composite membranes; nano-structured membranes for olefin/paraffin separations; and pervaporation, gas separation, and membrane distillation. He is also working on membrane-modulated absorbers and spargers; synergetic integration of membranes with traditional separation processes; carbon dioxide separation for greenhouse gas emission control; separation of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from gaseous and liquid waste streams; and membranes for bio-separations.
Professor Feng holds four patents, which are as follows: US patents “Modulated bundle elements” and “Hollow-fiber membrane devices and methods of assembly”; International patent “Process for the separation of olefins from paraffins using a membrane”; and Canadian patent “Hollow-fiber membrane device including a split disk tube sheet support.”
Membranes, Separation Technologies, Gas Concentration and Purification, Water and Wastewater Treatment, Biosorption
Title: Membranes Functionalized with Facilitated Transport for Olefin/Paraffin Separation
Light olefins (e.g., ethylene and propylene) are basic building blocks of chemical industry. The separation of olefins from their corresponding paraffins represents one of the most difficult separations in olefin/polyolefin industry. Currently, the separation of olefins from their paraffins is primarily accomplished on commercial scales by cryogenic distillation, which is extremely energy- and capital-intensive. Because of the ever increasing demand for olefin and polyolefin worldwide, there is an enormous incentive to develop more efficient separation technologies.
Efforts have been made to develop alternative separation technologies for this application, and membrane processes based on facilitated transport are shown to be very promising. One of the main challenges is however the instability of the membrane over time. We have developed a nanostructured membrane functionalized to facilitate olefin transport, and the membrane showed remarkable stability for continuous operation as tested in the lab with membrane coupons as well as in pilot plants with spiral-wound modules under operating conditions relevant to commercial plants. A case study showed that an olefin purity of >99.5% can be achieved at 90% recovery for both C2 and C3 splitters. This technology is being commercially exploited in Canada. In this talk, recent advances in facilitated transport for olefin/paraffin separation will be presented, and the structure/performance of the newly developed membranes will be discussed.
Dr. Noemie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne
Noémie-Manuelle Dorval Courchesne is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at McGill University. After earning a double degree in Biotechnology (Chemical Engineering & Biochemistry) from the University of Ottawa, Prof. Dorval Courchesne spent a few years in Boston to pursue graduate studies. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2015, and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard until 2017.
Her research focuses on the development of protein-based materials with novel physical properties, and on the fabrication of functional biologically-derived devices, with an emphasis on bio-energy and bio-electronics. She is active in the fields of biotechnology, advanced materials and sustainable energy, with memberships in the Quebec Center for Advanced Materials, the McGill Institute for Advanced Materials the Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering & Design, and the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative.
Advanced Materials, Bio-Derived Materials and Devices, Bio-Energy and Bio-Electronics, Biotechnology, Energy, Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology
Title: Assembly of Biologically-Derived Materials
Nature has evolved microorganisms, proteins and biopolymers with fascinating shapes and functionalities. Exquisite properties of biological materials include their ability to nucleate particles, bind molecules, catalyze reactions and participate in complex event cascades. As engineers, we can learn lessons from nature to design novel systems, and we also have the extraordinary power to modify nature to our desire. In fact, biological materials are highly versatile, modular, and easy to engineer genetically to precisely introduce a variety of functional groups. In this talk, I will describe the tremendous potential of natural systems as tools to fabricate functional devices. I will also explain the diverse and complementary research experiences that forged my research interests, and lead me to focus on the development biologically-derived technologies to build a more sustainable world.
I will highlight three exquisite properties of biological materials: 1) their versatility in terms of self-assembly, nanostructure formation and genetic engineering; 2) their potential for serving as scaffolds to re-create physical properties that are not normally observed in soft biological matter; and 3) their inexpensive, environmentally-friendly and scalable production to assemble macroscopic materials that can be used to solve real-life problems. Finally, I will present examples of protein-based materials that my group has assembled to produce functional thin films, gels and coatings, along with their potential uses for biomedical, environmental and energy applications.