Kungliga Skytteanska Samfundet’s award to membrane chemist
Naser Tavajohi has been awarded the Kungliga Skytteanska Samfundet’s award 2021 to young researchers at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Umeå University. The prize money is SEK 20,000.
Text: Ingrid Söderbergh
Naser Tavajohi, assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry
“What a wonderful surprise this is! I am humbled by the appointment and it was an exciting moment when I learned that I had won the award. I have very much wanted to become an independent research leader, build my own research group, follow up on the ideas that I think have a positive impact on our lives, and this award suggests that I may have succeeded to some extent,” says Naser Tavajohi, assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University.
The jury's motivation for the prize is:
“Naser Tavajohi has in a short time developed into an independent researcher and succeeded in creating a very successful research group in Umeå. He defended his dissertation in technical chemistry in 2015 at the universities of Hanyang University in Korea and Calabria University in Italy (joint degree). His research concerns the development of PVDF membranes for phase separation and other applications. He has completed two postdoctoral stays at two different universities in China during the years 2016-18, after which he was recruited to Umeå University for a assistant professor position. He has 21 publications in prestigious journals, of which eight as final author, and nine in 2020. He has raised several million in support of research equipment and supervises a doctoral student and two postdoctoral fellows."
Naser Tavajohi has been working at Umeå University for just over two years and he has built up his own research group with high competence in membrane science. The competence in his laboratory is a complement to the technical chemistry competence that already exists at the Department of Chemistry.
The industrial sector is the second largest energy consumption sector after housing and services. The majority of the operation processes in the industries have large costs related to separation and purification processes. Replacing high-energy units such as distillation and evaporation with low-energy units such as membranes would reduce global energy use, emissions and pollution.
Naser Tavajohi's laboratory is therefore developing polymer membranes that will function as such low-energy-intensive separation units. The membranes have a wide range of application areas, for example in the biorefinery, cement industry, steel technology, food industry and pharmaceutical industry.
“I believe in the strength of collaboration to achieve groundbreaking scientific results. Therefore, in recent years I have established a scientific network both in Sweden and internationally. My laboratory is a member of Annex XVII (membrane process in biorefineries) in Industrial Energy-Related Technologies and Systems, which works under the International Energy Council together with 24 partners from seven different countries. In addition, I am a group leader in the Chemical Catalysis and Separation Technology platform in the Bio4Energy program.”