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License to Innovate: Separations Technologies from UChicago, Argonne, and Fermilab

A showcase of select IP and research capabilities at the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. 

This technology showcase will highlight opportunities for advanced materials and processes in separation technologies. Separation processes are critical across industry verticals, such as hydrogen, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and water. One of the significant challenges is the high cost and energy intensity of product separations, purification, and recovery.

Advances in separation technologies are needed to reduce energy use, harmful emissions, and overall process costs. Some examples of innovative technologies developed include novel strategies for lithium extraction, supersonic beam diffraction for isotopic separations, and functionalized coatings of filtration membranes.


  • 11:00 – 11:30 // Welcome and Keynote 
  • 11:30 – 12:15 // Panel Discussion
  • 12:15 – 12:45 // Break
  • 12:45 – 2:00 // Pitches and Q&A 

Keynote //

Juan de Pablo, Executive Vice President for Science, Innovation, National Laboratories, and Global Initiatives; Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering; Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory

As the Executive Vice President for Science, Innovation, National Laboratories, and Global Initiatives, Juan de Pablo helps drive and support the expanding reach of the University’s science, technology, and innovation efforts, along with their connection to policy and industry. He identifies and shapes emerging strategic scientific and technological initiatives, and provides oversight of entrepreneurship and innovation activities at the University’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He also works with faculty, deans, and administrators to build global academic partnerships and international research collaborations while overseeing the University’s international centers. Continue reading…

Panel Discussion //

Coming Together to Advance Separations Technologies and a Clean Energy Future

In August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law – marking the most significant action Congress has taken on clean energy and climate change in the nation’s history.

To meet these ambitious goals requires the development of new technologies. Separations processes are crucial to the successful deployment of these potential technologies and, essential to several industries, are significant sources of energy use. Innovations in separation technologies are therefore critical to achieving overarching energy and waste reduction goals. Scalable, energy-efficient, and cost-competitive separation technologies are needed.

Moderator:  Chris Heckle, Director, Materials Manufacturing Innovation Center, Argonne National Laboratory


  • Andrea Course, Digital Innovation Program Manager, Shell
  • Gavin Dillingham, Executive Advisor, Federal Affairs, SLB
  • Ignasi Palou-Rivera, Executive Director and CTO, RAPID Manufacturing Institute at AIChE – American Institute of Chemical Engineers

This panel discussion will be followed by pitches from University of Chicago, Argonne, and Fermilab researchers with potential answers to these needs and others – with an opportunity for Q&A and additional connections.

Innovation Pitches //

  • Chong Liu: Novel Strategies for Lithium Extraction
  • Steven Sibener: Heterogeneous Isotope Enrichment and Separation Using Supersonic Molecular Beams 
  • Yuepeng Zhang: Electrodialysis Membrane for Selective Recovery of Critical Materials from Unconventional Water
  • Meltem Urgun Demirtas: Ion Exchange Polymers, Membranes, and Ionomers
  • Jeff Elam: Advanced Membrane Functionalization
  • Sujit Bidhar: Compact Scalable Nanofiber Mass Production Using Electrospinning

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