BWRC and LEADERS Seminar Series – Dr. Saifur Rahaman

Sophie Felleiter

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Short Bio:

Dr. Saifur Rahaman is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Concordia University. Prior to joining Concordia as an Assistant Professor in June 2012, he spent two years as an NSERC-Canada Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Rahaman received his Ph.D. from University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, BC, M.A.Sc. from Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, and B.Sc. from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Dhaka, Bangladesh, all in Civil (Environmental) engineering. He has more than 15 years of experience in conducting research, teaching and consulting services in the areas of sustainable water and energy. The primary focus of Dr. Rahaman’s current research is to develop advanced materials and novel membrane-based processes for water and wastewater treatment. Dr. Rahaman received a number of prestigious awards including NSERC-Discovery Accelerator Supplements (DAS) Award (2019), Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science Research Award - Tier II (2019), Concordia Research Fellow Award in Category A (2017), MWH/AEESP Best Master's Thesis Advisor Award (2016),  and Petro-Canada Young Innovators Award (2015) Dr Rahaman is currently an academic editor of the PLOS ONE and a member of the editorial board of Frontiers in Environmental Science.


Membrane distillation (MD) is an emerging, thermally-driven, membrane-based technology for effective and efficient solute separation to produce fresh water. Particularly, MD is suitable for the desalination of hypersaline solutions—such as RO brine, coal seam gas (CSG), and shale gas/oil wastewater—due to its insensitivity to salt concentration and a theoretical 100% salt rejection. In MD, a microporous hydrophobic membrane is used, through which only water vapors can pass, repelling liquid water. The driving force in MD is the vapor pressure gradient across the membrane, derived from the temperature differential between the hot feed and cold permeate streams. Low operating temperatures (30-80°C) distinguish MD from conventional thermal distillation, making it possible to utilize low-grade heat such as waste heat or solar thermal energy to power the process. Despite such attractive advantages, MD is still in an early developmental stage and has not been widely used in practical applications due to challenges related to membrane fouling and wetting that could lead to MD operation failures when treating challenging wastewaters using hydrophobic membranes. This talk will discuss about the challenges faced by the MD process and highlight the research needs for furthering the development of MD for its industrial applications.