Research in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Program

The University focuses on energy, water, food, the environment, and computational science and engineering - five global challenges to the planet with great potential to advance quality of life for Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region and the world.

The CBE Program research strengths are polymer science, thermodynamics, reaction engineering, mass transport in liquid and gas phase, surface science and separation science and technology.

The primary research areas of the CBE program are focused on the research thrusts of energy, environment and water. The Faculty members belong to either of two Research Centers at KAUST: Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Research Center and the Clean Combustion Research Center:

Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Research Center (AMPM)

Prof. Ingo Pinnau "Membrane and Processes for Separation of Gases and Liquids"

Professor Pinnau's research interests are in membrane processes for separation of gases and liquids – natural gas treatment, CO2 sequestration, hydrogen recovery, olefin/paraffin separation, and water purification. His research focuses on:

  • Synthesis of high-performance polymers
  • Development of high-performance membranes for gas and liquid separations
  • Hybrid organic/inorganic membranes
  • Nanostructured microporous polymer membranes
  • Thin-film technology
  • Membrane modifications (surface coatings/fouling resistance)

Prof. Klaus-Viktor Peinneman "Nano engineered Composite Materials"

Professor Peinemann’s research focuses on the development of multicomponent polymer-based membranes and adsorbents. Examples are self-assembled structures of block copolymers, stimuli-responsive membrane materials, metal/polymer and metal organic framework/polymer composites and highly cross-linked polymer membranes for organic solvent nanofiltration.

Prof. Zhiping Lai "Inorganic Membranes Research Group"

Professor Lai's research interests mainly focus on synthesis, characterization, and applications of inorganic membranes with ordered porous structures, such as zeolites, mesoporous silica or carbon, metal-organic frameworks, etc. The aim of his research is to understand the membrane formation and separation mechanisms in order to develop novel synthesis strategies to fabricate high performance membrane systems. The applications of these membranes are targeted on gas separations, hydrocarbon mixture separations, membrane reactors, wastewater treatment, and recovery of industrial organic solvents.

Professor Lai is also interested in coupling of inorganic and polymeric materials to develop novel mixed matrix membranes. Another area of his interests is synthesis of porous materials into nanostructures such as core-shell nanostructure and study their potential applications such as drug deliveries and micro-membrane reactors.

Prof. Mani Sarathy "Combustion and Pyrolysis Chemistry"

Professor Sarathy's research interest is in comprehensive chemical kinetics, combustion cyberinfrastructure, reaction mechanism reduction, chemistry of multi-scale reacting flows, laminar flames and flow reactors, advanced analytical chemistry tools, sustainable energy and fuels.