Project Area 1:

Optimization of the microstructure of thermo-responsive hydrogels

In this project area, the focus is on the understanding of different parameters that influence the performance of thermo-responsive hydrogels as draw agent in the membrane-based forward osmosis water desalination process or as both draw and separation agents in the free-membrane forward osmosis water desalination process. These parameters include either hydrogel characteristics like the hydrogel chemistry, charge density, crosslinking density, and hydrogel porosity or the overall hydrogel microstructure and morphology, such as it may be based on random copolymers, block copolymers, core-shell morphologies, and (semi)interpenetrating networks.

To reach this target, hydrogels with different mentioned parameters are synthesized and their properties like the equilibrium swelling and deswelling, the kinetics of swelling and deswelling, the drawing potential, and the salt rejection capacity are systematically studied.