Withita Cha-umpong, mentee in the Energy-Minerals Resources program in NSW (UNSW)

Withita Cha-umpong is a PhD student in the School of Chemical Engineering at University of New South Wales (UNSW). She received her master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering and bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from UNSW.  Currently, her research is about desalination using membrane technology such as membrane distillation and pervaporation. Highly concentrated brine is commonly found as a by-product of the reverse osmosis (RO) process, which needs to be further treated or disposed to minimize its environmental implications. Membrane distillation and pervaporation are used to treated concentrated inland RO brine. At high temperature, one major concern is that high feed salinity leads to nucleation and crystallization of salt on the membrane surface resulting in a rapid flux decline, and a reduced salt rejection. One approach to tackle salt crystallization in thermal-driven membrane technology is membrane surface modification by combining nanomaterials with membrane technology. She has been using graphene oxide nanosheets to enhance the rejection efficiency and performance sustainability of the pervaporation process.

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