Membrane Society Conference Highlights New Materials, Applications

UH Professor, Co-Chair of Annual Meeting, Says Use of Membranes Has Grown Dramatically

More than 400 people are registered for the 24th annual meeting of the North American Membrane Society, set for May 31-June 4 in a Houston suburb.

The meeting, to be held in the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square, is hosted by the University of Houston and Prairie View A&M University. Co-chairs are Shankar Chellam, an environmental engineer at UH, and Felecia Nave, associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs at Prairie View.

Membranes are used in a variety of fields, from water purification and energy to pharmaceuticals. The program will offer workshops and technical sessions keyed to specific areas, including water treatment, hydraulic fracturing, gas separation and engineered osmosis. There is also a session involving the use of nanotechnology applications, something Chellam said is of increasing interest in the field.

Both presenters and attendees represent a mix of academia, industry and government.    

There will be a free workshop for students June 1, offering career advice and networking opportunities.

The field traditionally has been dominated by chemical engineers – Nave is a chemical engineer – but Chellam said that it is broadening, as new applications are developed for membranes. He said when he was in graduate school in the late 1980s, his adviser was one of the first environmental engineers to use membranes for water treatment.

“Now, almost every environmental engineering program in the United States has someone working on membrane technology,” he said.

The conference is supported, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation and a number of private corporations. For more information, see