Keynote Speaker - Prof Andrew G. Livingston

Prof. Andrew Livingston (AGL) was born and bred in Taranaki, New Zealand and studied Chemical Engineering in NZ. Following graduation, he worked for 3 years at an NZ food processing company and then in 1986, started his PhD at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Upon finishing his PhD in 1990, he joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College. At Imperial, he has carried out research into membrane separations, biotransformations, chemical and separations technology. AGL leads a research group of 20 students and Post-Docs, with current research interests in membranes for molecular separations in liquid systems, and especially organic liquid systems. This includes membrane design and fabrication, imaging of membranes and characterisation of their structural and functional performance, engineering and design of separation processes, and applications of membrane separation to manufacturing.

AGL was made full Professor in 1999, has published over 250 refereed papers, and has been an inventor on over 30 patent applications. His work has been recognised by awards including the Junior Moulton Medal, Cremer and Warner Medal, and Underwood Medal of the IChemE, and the Silver Medal of Royal Academy of Engineering. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2006, he served as Head of Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College from 2008-2016. From October 2016 he has been the inaugural Director of the Barrer Centre at Imperial College, focussed on breakthrough research into separations materials, science and engineering, and until May 31, 2019, he is serving as the interim Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, a new Institute set up by the UK Government with £100M to transfer innovations in physical science and engineering to the life sciences.

In 1996, AGL founded Membrane Extraction Technology, a spin-out company which evolved to manufacture solvent stable Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN) membranes. On 1 March 2010 MET was acquired by Evonik Industries of Essen, Germany, and continues in business as Evonik MET Ltd., a part of the Evonik Fibres and Membranes Business. AGL continues working with Evonik MET as the Chief Innovation Officer. In 2018, with a group of current and former postdocs and PhDs, he founded Exactmer, a new company specialising in creating exact polymers.


Keynote (Resources Recovery)


Andrew Livingston

Imperial College London, UK


Membranes have had a huge impact in molecular separations in aqueous systems, especially desalination. The workhorse membrane for reverse osmosis is the thin film composite (TFC) membrane formed by interfacial polymerisation. This presentation will focus on research into understanding the formation and function of TFC membranes for both desalination and Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN) [1].

Advanced imaging and tomography has been used to understand the morphology of commercial TFC membranes and the flow paths through them [2]. To better reveal the relationship between fabrication and function, ultra-thin polyamide films (sub-10nm) have been formed by interfacial polymerisation and then used to fabricate composite membranes [3]. These ultra-thin polymer films 6-8nm thick are strong, and can be several centimetres in lateral dimension. Interestingly, the morphology of these films can be manipulated from smooth to highly crumpled, by adjusting the reaction conditions. The films can be applied in liquid filtration, and show unprecedented permeances in organic solvents, and high rejection of all solutes. Because the films can be prepared free-floating at a liquid-liquid interface, they can be used to explore how composite membranes function. This reveals that through matching of rough and smooth films with different supports, it is permeance rather than surface roughness, that determines fouling. Further, we find that the support permeance has a strong effect on the composite membrane permeance, for the same film placed on different supports [4], and that that the support rather than the thin film separating layer of a composite membrane leads to physical aging and flux decline. These insights are counter-intuitive to current thinking.

Intrinsic microporosity can be introduced into the ultra-thin polymer films through selection of contorted monomers for interfacial polymerisation. These intrinsically microporous polymer nanofilms provide higher interconnectivity of pores and greater permeance than films obtained from planar monomer systems [5]. Finally, the potential for ultra-high permeance membranes to impact on actual molecular separation processes will be discussed, including the relative merits of selectivity, permeance and stability [6].


1) Marchetti P, Jimenez-Solomon, MF, Szekely, G and Livingston AG, Molecular Separation with Organic Solvent Nanofiltration – A Critical Review, Chemical Reviews, 114, 10735 – 10806 (2014).

2) Klosowski, MM, McGilvery, CM, Li, Y, Abellan, P, Ramasse, Q, Livingston, AG and Porter, AE, “Micro-to nano-scale characterisation of polyamide structures of the SW30HR RO membrane using advanced electron microscopy and stain tracers”, J.Mem.Sci (2016) 520 pp.465-476.

3) Karan S, Jiang Z, Livingston AG, Sub-10 nm polyamide films with ultrafast solvent transport for molecular separation, Science 348 pp 1347-1351 (2015) 4) Z Jiang, S Karan, AG Livingston “Water transport through ultrathin polyamide nanofilms used for reverse osmosis” Advanced Materials (2018) 30 (15), 1705973.

5) Jimenez-Solomon, MF, Song, Q, Jelfs, KE, Munoz-Ibanez, M and Livingston, AG, Polymer nanofilms with enhanced microporosity by interfacial polymerization, Nature Materials Vol 15, Issue 7, pp.760-767 (2016).

6) Shi B, Marchetti P, Peshev D, Zhang S and Livingston AG Will ultra-high permeance membranes lead to ultra-efficient processes? Challenges for molecular separations in liquid systems J.Mem.Sci (2017) 520 pp.35-47.


Prof Andrea Livingston
Prof Andrea Livingston