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Spontak Awarded IChemE Global Research Project Award

Congratulations to Professor Richard Spontak and his research team on being awarded the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Research Project Award at the IChemE annual black-tie awards reception held in Manchester, UK. The team members include Dr. Wade Ingram from Materials Science & Engineering and Fiber & Polymer Science at NC State, Drs. Marius and Eugenia Sandru and Dr. Per Stenstad from SINTEF Industry (Norway), and Professor Liyuan Deng and Dr. Jing Deng from Chemical Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU).

The winning project, based on the team’s Science paper that appeared in April of this year, focused on the development of robust and inexpensive membranes with simultaneously high CO2/N2 and CO2/CH4 selectivity for carbon-capture applications, for example in fossil-fuel power plants and the cement and steel industries. The team was able to significantly increase selectivity by modifying the surface of membranes possessing intrinsically high CO2 permeability using targeted surface polymerization to make the membrane surface hydrophilic and CO2-philic. The performance of the resulting membranes is far superior to any carbon-capture polymer membranes that are commercially available. This unique membrane design is anticipated to help mitigate the harmful effect of CO2 on global climate change. To learn more about the research, which was supported by the Research Council of Norway, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and Kraton Corporation, read a press release from NC State.

The IChemE is the second largest chemical engineering professional society (with over 30,000 members worldwide) next to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Each year, projects are solicited from universities, companies and national laboratories around the world in several targeted topics. In the same spirit as the Academy Awards, the nominations are evaluated and whittled down to typically 5-7 finalists, who are publicly announced in September. The highly commended entries and winners are revealed at the awards reception. In addition to winning the Global Research Project Award, the team’s project was also designated as a “highly commended entry” in the Global Oil & Gas Award category. Professor Spontak and his NC State colleagues Profs. Reza Ghiladi and Frank Scholle have previously received “highly commended entry” designations for the Global Pharma Award from 2019 to 2021 for their work on broad-spectrum, continuously self-disinfecting antimicrobial polymers.