Switchable Polarity Solvent Forward Osmosis – Idaho National Laboratory

Team Members 
Principal Investigator: Aaron Wilson, research chemist
Entrepreneurial Lead: Carter Fox, research scientist
Industry Mentor: Shawn Perkins, business consultant, Small Business Development Center and vice president business operation, Advanced Ceramic Fibers LLC
Industry Mentor: David Noack, regional director, Small Business Development Center

Technology Description

Switchable polarity solvents (SPSs) are an exciting new class of materials that undergo a polarity shift upon being exposed to a chemical agent. The switch leads to profound changes in solubility and phase behavior, and SPSs display many of the beneficial characteristics of room temperature ionic liquids without the cost or difficulty of recycling. This team envisions a range of possible applications for this technology, but their initial target areas will be industrial water treatment and biomass fractionation. The use of SPSs in water treatment processes has the potential to cost-effectively obtain high water recoveries from high-salinity and high-fouling industrial waters. The team’s biomass project will use SPSs to fractionate biomass such that it can be merchandized, allowing the biomass industry to compete with the petrochemical infrastructure. With the help of Energy I-Corps the team hopes to explore various paths forward, demonstrate the processes, and bring the technology to market.