Lectures and teachers

Alberto Figoli

Institute on Membrane Technology (ITM-CNR), Rende (CS), ITALY

LECTURE TITLE:  Green Chemistry in Membrane Science and Technology

Membrane-based operations are recognized as green emerging technologies. They are perfectly integrated in the sustainability context, due to the possibility to reduce energy consumption, enhance process efficiency, minimize/eliminate the use of chemicals, assure high-quality products and to have low maintenance and minimum operation requirements. Membrane technologies could play a crucial role for reaching sustainability objectives. In fact, in accordance with process intensification, i.e. «Producing much more and better with much less», they provide opportunities to improve or completely replace conventional, well established, large, expensive, energy intensive and polluting equipment or processes with alternatives that combine multiple operations into a more sustainable single apparatus or into fewer devices [1-2]. The majority of polymeric membranes are produced via phase inversion technique. This procedure generally implies the use of organic, toxic solvents, needed to solubilize the selected fossil-based polymer. However, the more stringent environmental regulations for natural resources preservation and health safety, have considerably influenced the choice of chemicals in the last decade, encouraging the search of new, less toxic, greener alternatives. Recently, some emerging solvents have been proposed as valid alternatives for polymeric membrane preparation. Among them, several innovative non-toxic solvents offer promising perspectives for the green membrane preparation route [3]. The lecture will focus also on recent developments in membrane preparation via phase inversion by employing the greener solvents [4-5]. Moreover, the possibility of using of biopolymers derived from animal or vegetable sources and from bacterial fermentation products, fascinated the research along with the growing worldwide trend towards sustainability. The development of a suitable preparation procedure, allowing to tailor membrane structure and properties, will be presented. The potential applications of the fabricated membranes for water/vapour and gas separation will be also discussed.

[1] A. Figoli, A. Criscuoli, Sustainable Membrane Technology for Water and Wastewater Treatment, Springer , ISBN 978-981-10-5621-5, 2017.

[2] A. Criscuoli, E. Drioli, New Metrics for Evaluating the Performance of Membrane Operations in the Logic of Process Intensification, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 46 (8) (2007) 2268–2271.

[3] A. Figoli  T. Marino, S. Simone, E. Di Nicolò, X.-M. Li, T. He, S. Tornaghi, E. Drioli, Towards non-toxic solvents for membrane preparation: a review, Green Chem., 16 (2014) 4034-4059.

[4] T. Marino, E. Blasi, S. Tornaghi, E. Di Nicolò, A. Figoli, Polyethersulfone membranes prepared with Rhodiasolv®Polarclean as water soluble green solvent”, J. Memb. Sci., 549 (2018) 192–204.

[5] T. Marino, R. Russo, A. Criscuoli, A. Figoli, TamiSolve® NxG as novel solvent for polymeric membrane preparation, J. Memb. Sci., 542 (2017) 418-429.

Alberto Figoli graduated in Food Science and Technology at Agriculture University in Milan in 1996. He worked at Quest International (Unilever) in the Netherlands for one year, 1996-1997. He received the PhD degree in Chemical Technologies at Membrane Technology Group, Twente University (The Netherlands) in 2001. Since 2001, he has a permanent position as Researcher at Institute on Membrane Technology (ITM-CNR) in Rende (CS), Italy. In 2017, he has been habilitated as Full Professor in the scientific sector (03/B2) Fondamenti Chimici delle Tecnologie.

Alberto Figoli is expert in the field of membrane technology, particularly in membrane preparation and characterisation and their application in environmental filed.

He was awarded for Scientific Productivity 2006 in “Food Packaging Research – GSICA Awards” by the Italian Scientific Food Packaging Group, 22 June 2006, Catania (Italy) and selected for the best publications in the Environmental Section in the “Highlights of CNR” for the year 2010 and 2011 by CNR, Rome (Italy). He performed a research activity in the USA, at Environmental Protection Agency of United States (USEPA) in Cincinnati for a short period, during the years 2004 and 2005.

His research activities are on the preparation and characterisation of polymeric membranes, both in flat and hollow-fiber configurations for water treatment. He is also involved on polymeric capsules preparation by membrane process and on pervaporation applied to the removal of contaminants (i.e. VOCs) from water and aroma recovery from natural matrices.

He is involved and responsible for ITM-CNR of several international project funded by EU and national projects by Italian Ministry of Education, University & Research and private companies. He is co-author of five books, more than 110 peer-review scientific papers and more than 15 chapters published in international journals and books. He is also author of two international patents on membrane and science technology. He is expert evaluator for Italian Ministry of Instruction, Hong Kong SAR Government, Research Foundation Flanders (FWO); Research Councils UK (RCUK).

Since February 2015, he is serving the European Membrane Society Council (EMS) as Responsible for Awards and Summer School Activities and since 2017, he is the Secretary of the European Membrane Society (EMS).