Grant support for UK graphene membrane research

Graphene researchers at the UK’s University of Manchester have been awarded a £ 3.5 million grant that could bring new desalination membranes, safer food packaging and enhanced disease detection closer to reality.

Funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, the research focuses on membranes that could provide solutions to problems such as stopping power stations releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or detecting the chemical signals produced by agricultural pests.

The latest research grant comes just months after the university was awarded £ 2.2 million to lead research into graphene batteries and supercapacitors for energy storage.

The research is led by Prof Peter Budd of the School of Chemistry. He said: “We have also invented a range of polymers – called Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs) – which form membranes that are very good for separating gases and organic liquids. These are of interest, for example, for removing carbon dioxide from power station flue gases, or for removing organic compounds from water.

“By combining PIMs with graphene, we expect to produce membranes with even better performance under long-term conditions of use,” Budd added.

Graphene was first isolated in 2004 at the University of Manchester by Prof Andre Geim and Prof Kostya Novoselov. Their work earned them the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics.