In their study, Zhang and his Ph.D. student, Wanyi Fu, utilized microwave as the irradiation source to induce catalytic reactions on membrane surface and enhance pollutant degradation. In contrast to other irradiation such as UV or ultrasonication, microwave is able to pass through industrial membrane filtration housing and enable membrane surface reactions.

Jul. 2022: Dr. Zhang’ group member, Shan Xue, delivered a poster at Gordon Research Conference on Nanoscale Science and Engineering for Agriculture and Food Systems.

Microwave-enhanced membrane filtration technology for water treatment

Water pollution affects millions of people worldwide and is a leading cause for public health concern. Specifically, unregulated and emerging pollutants, such as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are toxic and refractory, which can be challenging to remove via conventional water treatment processes.

Jul. 2022: Dr. Zhang’ group successfully co-organized and participated the CAPEES Workshop and Banquet events at AEESP in June 2022.

Explore the Nano World 

Membrane filtration is an efficient and widely used chemical separation and water purification technologies. Yet, the membrane technology suffers from drawbacks such as membrane fouling and inadequate removal of dissolved organic matters, especially for the emerging pollutants mentioned above.

Now, Dr. Wen Zhang’s group at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have designed a novel reactive membrane system with the ability to degrade the emerging pollutants and mitigate membrane fouling.

This novel technique has been filed as a US patent and the research has been published in the Journal of Membrane Science recently. The Zhang’s team is also exploring ways to scale up application of microwave-enhanced membrane filtration technology in drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment and landfill leachate treatment. With more studies, Zhang’s lab soon hopes to demonstrate the feasibility of microwave-enhanced membrane filtration outside the lab for point-of-use (POU) water treatment devices for safe drinking water.

There are challenges remaining in using the conventional treatment technologies for emerging pollutants treatment,” said Dr. Wen Zhang, “so we need to design next-generation membrane techniques, which may integrate reactions into physical membrane separation.”

Zhang’s lab is now working on different types of reactive membrane systems: UV-based photocatalytic reactive membrane, electro-chemical membrane and microwave-enhanced membrane filtration, which demonstrate high potential for efficient removal of emerging pollutants and low-cost membrane operations.

Wen Zhang

Principal Investigator
Associate Professor

Phone: (973) 596-5520 
Fax: (973) 596-5790

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

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 Wen's Research Group​