Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level



Chemical Engineering


Ranil S. Wickramasinghe

Committee Member

Michael D. Ackerson

Second Committee Member

Ed Clausen

Third Committee Member

Peter Czermak

Fourth Committee Member

Xianghong Qian


Biomass Hydrolysis, Interfacial Polymerization, Ionic Liquid, Modified Membranes, Nanofiltration, Sugar Fractionation


Modified membranes for process intensification in biomass hydrolysis

Production of biofuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass is one of the leading candidates for replacement of petroleum based fuels and chemicals. However, conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into fuels and chemicals is not cost effective compared to the production of fuels and chemicals from crude oil reserves. Some novel and economically feasible approaches involve the use of ionic liquids as solvents or co-solvents, since these show improved solvation capability of cellulose over simple aqueous systems. Membranes offer unique opportunities for process intensification which involves fractionation of the resulting biomass hydrolysate leading to a more efficient and cheaper operation.

This research attempts to develop membranes that would usher the economics of the biochemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into fuels and chemicals by recycling the expensive ionic liquid. The overall aim of this work is the development of novel membranes with unique surface properties that enable the selective separation of non-reacted cellulose and hydrolysis sugars from ionic liquids.

Nanofiltration separation for application in food product engineering

With the advent of the modern, well-informed consumer who has high expectations from the nutritional value of consumed food products, novel approaches are being developed to produce nutrient-enhanced foods and drinks. As a response to the consumer needs, different techniques to recover, concentrate and retain as much as possible of bioactive compounds are being investigated. Membrane technology has the advantage of selective fractionation of food products (e.g. salt removal, removal of bitter-tasting compounds or removal of sugar for sweet taste adjustment), volume reduction, and product recovery at mild conditions. In this work, we use nanofiltration in dead-end and crossflow mode to concentrate polyphenols from blueberry pomace. Blueberry pomace is an overlooked waste product form the juice pressing of blueberries that contains high amounts of health-beneficial antioxidants. We aim at developing a simple, yet efficient membrane process that reduces the amount of water and thus concentrates the amount of polyphenols in the retentate.