Degrees of separation: a new approach to enhancing water quality… and harvesting suspensions


Date Thursday May 28th 2009
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

Clean water: is there ever enough of it? There could be— if we had eco-friendly, highly configurable systems that quickly and affordably separate unwanted particles from underutilized water sources.

At PARC, scientists have been exploring ways to extend their core competencies in printing, imaging, and particulate manipulation to help solve big cleantech industry problems. This effort has resulted in the development of a liquid purification platform with the potential to transform the treatment of municipal water, wastewater, and seawater, the cooling of power plants, algae dewatering, industrial liquids, and so forth.

Now in prototype form, this breakthrough concept comprises two simple approaches: one for aggregation and conditioning, and an innovative method for hydrodynamic separation, especially of neutrally buoyant suspensions. This talk will describe how we induce precipitation or suspension formation from dissolved materials, promote aggregation of smaller suspensions into larger and more robust agglomerates, and capture for reuse of volume-dispersed carrier suspensions to treat contaminants.

Using this purely fluidic, continuous flow clarification method, which uses no membrane, results in 50% reduction in chemicals conventionally required for water treatment.


With extensive experience in multi-physics simulations to guide hardware prototyping for industrial applications,Dr. Meng Lean manages PARC's microfluidic systems work. He also focuses on developing distributed MEMS actuators for manipulating particles in air, liquids, and gels. Multi-physics phenomena involved include electro-kinetic transport, micro-separation, and electro-osmotic pumping for lab-on-chip and portable devices in proteomics and biodefense applications. Recently, Meng led the successful building -- from concept to final delivery -- of a portable bio-agent concentrator that achieved a 100X concentration ratio within minutes to increase the sensitivity and selectivity of downstream bio detection.

Meng holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manitoba, Canada. He has worked at PARC for more than 25 years, with a 5-year stint at Xerox Wilson Center in the ‘80s. Meng has authored more than 250 journal and conference publications (including a book chapter) and holds 43 patents, with another 42 pending.

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