Unifying scientific disciplines to solve emerging membrane filtration challenges

Mathematicians and engineers join forces to identify and tackle the pressing issues that are limiting future advances in membrane science.

The Royal Society recently convened experts from around the world to discuss emerging membrane filtration challenges at a workshop held at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Chicheley Hall.

The workshop, led by Ian Griffiths, Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, with Sourav Mondal (Oxford) and Davide Mattia (University of Bath), considered recent advances in membrane design, fabrication, and their use in filtration technologies. It provided a forum to address problems in filtration science that demand collaboration in experimentation and field testing, microscale theories (molecular dynamics), and macroscale (continuum) theories.

Experts from the UK, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the USA, explored 6 primary topics during the workshop: 1) new membranes for the future; 2) molecular simulations; 3) process modelling; 4) membrane characterization; 5) porosity-graded filters; and 6) fluid transport modelling.

The workshop fostered many fruitful discussions, with a number of new international collaborations emerging from these. These projects are employing state-of-the-art modelling, computational techniques, and experiments to understand how membrane performance can be enhanced and new membranes can be designed for targeted separation tasks.

Ian Griffiths is a Royal Society University Research Fellow whose research agenda concerns 21st century fluid dynamical challenges in water purification. Ian’s research focuses on developing mathematical models that enable improvements in current water purification techniques and assist in developing new filtration technologies. Ian currently has a collaboration with IIT Kharagpur developing mathematical models for arsenic-removal filters, funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and will continue this work through support from the Royal Society Challenge Grants. You can find out more about the research taking place in his group here.