ChE Seminar Series: Geoff Giese, Ph.D.

Date(s) - 02/06/2024
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Communicore C1-017


Title: Engineering ion transport in polymer membranes for water purification and energy applications

Geoff Geise, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Providing sustainable supplies of purified water and energy is a critical global challenge for the future, and polymer membranes will play a key role in addressing these clear and pressing global needs for water and energy. Polymer membrane-based processes dominate the desalination market because they are more energy efficient than thermal desalination processes, and polymer membranes are crucial components in several rapidly developing power generation and energy storage applications that rely on membranes to control, selectively, rates ion transport. Much remains unknown about the influence of polymer structure on even basic intrinsic transport properties, and these relationships must be developed to design next generation polymer membrane materials. The ability to control ion transport in membranes is key to engineering membranes for water and energy applications. Ion transport selectivity in aqueous hydrated polymer membranes can be increased by making the polymer backbone more rigid and by spreading out hydrophilic functional groups within the polymer. These design principles may be particularly relevant to the use of membranes in water purification applications. Additionally, rigid and high glass transition temperature polymers can be functionalized and used to facilitate lithium conduction in membrane separators engineered for non-aqueous redox flow batteries that are of increasing interest for grid-scale energy storage to facilitate the deployment of intermittent renewable energy sources. This seminar presents an overview of research aimed at further understanding fundamental structure/property relationships that govern small molecule transport in polymeric materials considered for desalination and electric potential field-driven membrane applications that can help address global needs for clean water and energy.

Dr. Geoffrey M. Geise is an associate professor at the University of Virginia in the Department of Chemical Engineering and in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering by courtesy. After earning a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, he proceeded to earn M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin where he developed experimental techniques for measuring individual ion sorption in polymers and established a fundamental selectivity/permeability tradeoff relationship in desalination membrane materials. Subsequently, Dr. Geise joined the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as a post-doctoral scholar at the Pennsylvania State University to study electric potential-driven ion transport in polymers. At the University of Virginia, his research focuses on studying the fundamentals of chemically- and electrochemically-driven small molecule transport through polymeric materials in order to engineer membranes that will address global water shortages and need for clean energy. He recently led a University of Virginia based team to a runner-up win in the American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize for developing technology related to the recovery of lithium from geothermal brine sources. He has received several professional and academic awards and honors including the NSF CAREER Award, Best ES&T Engineering Paper Award for 2022, Best ES&T Letters Paper Award for 2019, I&ECR 2020 Class of Influential Researchers Recognition, 2018 & 2021 Robert A. Moore, Jr. Award in Chemical Engineering, Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award, the Young Membrane Scientist Award from the North American Membrane Society (NAMS), the New Professor Travel Award from Engineering Conferences International, and a University of Virginia Excellence in Diversity Fellowship.