Published December 4, 2019
Hien Nguyen, a PhD student in Dr. Haiqing Lin's research group received the best poster award of the Separations Division at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL for his work on carbonized membrane materials.
Prior to entering UB to pursue a PhD in Chemical Engineering, Hien Nguyen worked at Membrane Technology Research, Inc (MTR) as a Research Engineer for nearly 3 years to develop commercial membranes for natural gas purification. He then joined Dr. Haiqing Lin’s group in Fall 2016. His areas of study include (1) confined crystallization in polymeric membranes for gas separation and (2) design and optimization of carbonized materials for hydrogen recovery and carbon capture. While at UB, Hien Nguyen has won awards such as the First Prize Poster Award for Excellence in Material Research at the 2019 UB CBE Graduate Student Research Symposium, Third Prize Poster Award at the North American Membrane Society (NAMS) 2018 Conference, and the Elias Klein Traveling Award from NAMS 2018 Conference.
Hien Nguyen was awarded best poster at this year's annual AIChE conference for his principal research, which focuses on developing and optimizing carbonized membrane materials for pre-combustion CO2 capture and H2 purification. Membranes technology is a promising avenue to carry separation efficiently and affordably. However, most polymeric membranes tend to exhibit poor H2/CO2 separation properties. Hien's work addresses this shortcoming by looking at the polymer-derived approach, specifically pyrolyzing polybenzimidazole doped with phosphoric acid. The pyrolysis of such polymeric precursor yields carbon molecular sieves (CMS) with both incredibly high H2 permeability (productivity) and H2/CO2 selectivity (efficiency), making these CMS materials commercially attractive for pre-combustion CO2 capture.
Hien was also recognized recently, at UB CBE's 2019 Graduate Student Research Symposium. Hien was among the winners of the poster competition (pictured below), winning first place poster award for Excellence in Material Research. See more about the 2019 Graduate Student Research Symposium Poster Session Winners.
Upon the completion of his PhD thesis, Hien plans on resuming a career in the industry. Ideally, he sees himself in a liaison role between R&D and manufacturing to scale-up membranes from novel materials with promising properties at the bench-scale, whether for gas separation, water purification, or ion-exchange membranes. In his opinion, the world of separation is incredibly fascinating from the viewpoint that engineers like himself seek to separate ridiculously small molecules possessing a size difference of less than 10-10 m (ie. gas separation, sea water desalination) in an energy-efficient way. Doing so is a unique and ambitious engineering endeavor that he is excited to tackle now and in the future with membranes.