KY NSF EPSCoR is Developing Powerful
Membrane Technologies.

What Are Membranes and Why Are They So Important?

Membrane technology is used in a wide variety of industrial applications, including pharmaceutical production, water purification, food and beverage processing, and energy production.


A membrane functions as a filter, allowing certain substances to pass through, while removing others. Membranes are powerful because they can be designed to target and selectively separate undesired substances from liquid materials. For example, membranes with larger pore sizes are capable of removing large particles like sand, pollen, and human hair, while membranes with smaller, nano-scale pores are able to remove bacteria and viruses.

“Today more municipal wastewater treatment facilities are using membrane technologies than ever, and this number is on the rise as the technology offers unparalleled capability in meeting rigorous requirements.”

Source: CDM Smith


Developing New Technology
with a Bio-Inspired Blueprint.

Current industrial biotechnology and bioprocessing methods rely on energy-intensive, time-consuming membrane technology that increases costs. The development of economical membrane separation technologies remains a roadblock to sustainable, profitable biomanufacturing of fuels and high-value co-products, energy production, and treatment of compromised water.


We believe that some of the best engineering can be found in nature. That’s why we’re working to leverage bio-inspired design to develop multifunctional, low-fouling, responsive, reactive, and selective membranes.


At Kentucky NSF EPSCoR, our mission is to develop multifunctional bio-inspired membrane technology capable of assisting in environmental remediation, liquid purification, and conversion to promote the bioeconomy.

Bio-inspired responsive and hybrid membrane synthesis.

We will focus on the synthesis, fabrication, and scale-up aspects associated with the development of novel bio-inspired membrane technologies.

Efficient and selective separations of small molecules by bio-inspired transport.

We will explore the possible separation applications using multifunctional nano composite membranes. Examples include separation of lignocellulose-derived products such as glucose, xylose, cellobiose, vanillyl alcohol, vanillin, and phenolics; environmental remediation.

High flux nanoporous membranes with protein channels.

We will construct membranes with protein channels that provide high flux and selectivity based on molecular size and charge. Examples include molecular engineering of protein channels for site-specific and directional immobilization; membrane flux and separation selectivity characterization.

Enzymatically active membranes for bio-conversion and water applications.

We will develop single and multi-enzyme immobilized membranes capable of rendering value-added products and water remediation.

“When thinking about using membranes to remove pollutants from water, you want materials that can change shape, can shrink and expand. Nature knows how to do this! While we can’t directly copy nature, we can learn from it and mimic some of its processes.”

DB Bhattacharyya
Advanced Bio-Inspired Membrane
Technologies Research Pillar Leader,

at the University of Kentucky


Chemical Biology for
Advanced Materials

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