Ph.D. Candidate, Jaime Idarraga-Mora, whose advisor is Dr. Scott Husson, successfully defended his dissertation titled “Mechanical Properties of Thin-Film Composite Membranes and their Role in Osmotic Processes” on March 18th.
Jaime reflected on his research and studies: “During my Ph.D., I had multiple feelings, from hopelessness to joy. My joy came from constantly trying to learn new things, which led me to propose new, better-informed, hypotheses and experiments to test them. Additional excitement came when some of the hypotheses were proven true. Osmotic processes are membrane operations in which the main driving force is a concentration difference of solutes in the solutions in contact with the two sides of a semipermeable membrane. Applications include removing water from products/contaminants, harvesting energy from salinity gradients, and lowering the costs of seawater desalination. The study system for my research was a set of thin-film composite (TFC) reverse osmosis (RO) membranes designed for rejecting salts in desalination. These TFC RO membranes have thick supporting layers (~150 μm), which increases the diffusion pathway for salts within the membranes. This decreases the effective salinity gradient between the two surfaces of the membrane active layer, which ultimately decreases the process productivity (i.e., water flux) in osmotic processes. I aimed to provide guidelines for the improved design of TFC membranes for OP, considering the trade-off between membrane mechanical integrity and productivity.”
“Moving forward, I hope to bring the skills and critical thinking that I have gained at Clemson to develop new technologies that enable sustainable chemical processes,” said Idarraga-Mora. After graduation, Jaime will be joining the Dow Chemical Company as a Senior Research Specialist at their Innovation Center in Lake Jackson, TX.