£9M Multi-university SynHiSel project could save CO2 emissions and energy costs worldwide.

A £9M project to develop new chemical processing technology that could massively reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has begun at UK Universities including the University of Edinburgh.

Prof. Neil McKeown from School of Chemistry and Prof. Maria-Chiara Ferrari from the School of Engineering are involved in the SynHiSel research programme to reinvent chemical separation methods and significantly cut total global energy consumption.

Commenting on the project, Prof. Neil McKeown said:

‘Our role will be to prepare polymers that can be used to manufacture highly selective membranes. We have developed a new class of polymer, called Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs), that possess both highly rigid and highly contorted molecular structures, which act like sieves, so that small molecules, such as CO2, pass through much faster than larger gas molecules such as nitrogen or methane. Therefore, the resulting membranes will be more efficient at capturing CO2 from power plants and industrial processes and for removing CO2 from natural gas or biogas.’

PIMs can also be used as separation membranes in batteries, where small charge carriers such as lithium cations can move freely though the polymer but the transport of larger anion or cations, which harm the performance of the battery, are blocked. Prof McKeown will collaborate with the other investigators on SynHiSel, including Prof. Maria-Chiara Ferrari in the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh to investigate the potential of PIMs in a wide variety of applications.


The project, the biggest of its kind to date, will investigate how to develop more efficient ways of separating chemicals – processes that underpin crucial parts of everyday life including clean water treatment, CO2 removal and food and pharmaceutical production. The programme’s principal investigator Professor Davide Mattia from the University of Bath says the project aims to help the UK lead in developing new high value, high efficiency chemical processing techniques.

The SynHiSel programme team comprises: Prof Davide Mattia and Prof John Chew, University of Bath; Dr Patricia Gorgojo and Prof Peter Budd, University of Manchester; Prof Ian Metcalfe and Dr Greg Mutch, Newcastle University; Prof Neil McKeown and Prof Maria-Chiara Ferrari, University of Edinburgh; Prof Andrew Livingston, Queen Mary University of London; Prof Kang Li and Dr Qilei Song, Imperial College London.

Link to University of Bath press release:https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/9m-research-programme-to-reinvent-chemical-separation-methods-and-cut-global-energy-consumption/

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