Membrane technology engineer recognised for innovation

8 August 2017
Young academic wins prestigious global award in membrane science

A University of Sydney Chemical Engineering lecturer has been recognised as a young innovator in his field for his use of membrane technology to drive sustainability in the water, food, and renewable energy industries.

Dr Qianhong She.

Dr Qianhong She from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies was recently named a recipient of the 2017 North American Membrane Society (NAMS) Young Membrane Scientist Award.

The prestigious award is given to early career researchers in recognition of their academic achievements, as well as their outstanding potential to become future leaders in the membrane science and technology field.

Dr She was recognised for his research into the use of membranes (aka synthetically created structures) for water, food, and renewable energy applications.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence congratulated Dr She on his achievement.

“Dr She’s innovative research is a fantastic example of the impact that early career researchers can have on our society. I am pleased that Dr She has chosen the University of Sydney as the setting to continue his work and develop his academic leadership career,” Dr Spence said.

Dr She was presented with his award at the 11th International Congress on Membranes and Membrane Processes (ICOM 2017) in San Francisco earlier this month, where he also delivered a presentation on a new membrane model developed in his recent research.

Dr Qianhong She with his award.

Dr Qianhong She with his award.

Dr She said his model is universally applicable to all osmosis-related membrane processes (i.e. when molecules from a liquid transfer across a semipermeable membrane) – including reverse osmosis, forward osmosis and pressure-retarded osmosis –  and could revolutionise research into the use of membranes to filter contaminants from water and other fluids.

“The model will help researchers recognise performance-limiting factors in those processes and better understand the intrinsic relationships among processes. This will help them develop new strategies to design optimised membranes and make the best use of their technologies, particularly in water and energy applications,” Dr She said.

With the guidance of his model, newly developed membranes and membrane processes could have a significant real-world impact on industry, Dr She said.

The model could help companies reduce the cost and energy consumption for clean water and value-added food production, recover resources and energy from wastewater, and tap new types of renewable energy.

Dr She is setting up his research in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering to explore new materials and methods to synthesise the next generation of osmotic membranes and to develop integrated membrane processes/systems for sustainable water, food and energy production.

“The ultimate goal of my research is to make our environment and society more sustainable,” Dr She said.

Dr She was awarded the Membrane Society of Australasia (MSA) Travel Award to travel to the congress ICOM 2017.

Dr She joined the University of Sydney this year. He previously held academic positions at Nanyang Technological University’s Singapore Membrane Technology Centre.