ChBE Seminar Series (Virtual) - 3:30 p.m. EDT - Kumar Agrawal (Virtual) on December 1

Wed Dec 1 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
WebEx Link

Kumar Agrawal, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering (ISIC) at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

"Å-scale chemistry & engineering of two-dimensional materials for energy-efficient molecular separation"


WebEx Link: (Password = ChBE2021)


High-performance molecular-selective membranes are expected to play a crucial role in improving the energy-efficiency of separation processes and reducing the industrial carbon emission. Toward this goal, our laboratory at EPFL ( is engaged in chemistry and engineering of two-dimensional materials at the Å length-scale to address challenges in the scalable of nanoporous membranes separating molecules based on their relative diffusivities through custom-designed nanopores.

In this seminar, I will present our recent work on the synthesis of nanoporous graphene and nanoporous ordered nanosheets using top-down and bottom-up synthetic strategies.  In case of graphene, I will discuss strategies that allow incorporation of vacancy defects (nanopores) at a high density but also with a narrow pore-size-distribution with a resolution below 0.3 Å in terms of molecular differentiation, leading to realization of record-high performance in post-combustion carbon capture [1-6]. I will discuss the fabrication of graphene film based mechanical reinforcement strategy that allows one to scale-up membranes for gas separation [4, 7]. In this context, I will also describe the ongoing pilot plant demonstrator project for the postcombustion capture. Finally, I will discuss synthesis and lego-like assembly of zeolite nanosheets that allow facile fabrication of membranes for high-temperature H2/CO2 separation for pre-combustion carbon capture [8].


  1. Science Advances 2019, 5, eaav1851.
  2. Energy & Environmental Sciences 2019, 12, 3305–3312.
  3. Science Advances 2021, 7 (9), eabf0116.
  4. Nature Communications 2018, 9, 2632.
  5. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences 2021, In Press.
  6. ACS Nano 2021, acsnano.1c02927.
  7. Journal of Membrane Science 2021, 618, 118745.
  8. Nature Materials, 2021, 20 (3), 362–369.


Prof. Kumar Varoon Agrawal is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering (ISIC) at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) where he heads the laboratory of advanced separations (LAS) since year 2016. He received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from IIT Bombay (India) in 2005.  Following this, he joined the global R&D division of Procter & Gamble in Japan where he worked on product design (2005-2008). He subsequently joined the University of Minnesota for a PhD degree in chemical engineering (2008-2013). His thesis in the group of Prof. Michael Tsapatsis led to the isolation of highly crystalline two-dimensional zeolite nanosheets. He joined Strano group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a postdoctoral researcher where he studied the effect of nanoconfinement on the phase transition of fluids (2014-2016). At EPFL, his research group is engaged in material chemistry and engineering at the Å-scale for high-performance inorganic and hybrid membranes for energy- and cost-efficient molecular separation. For this, his group is developing synthetic routes for the two-dimensional nanoporous membranes with a precise control of nanopore size and functionality.  He is the recipient of American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Separation Division FRI/John G. Kunesh Award, North American Membrane Society Young Membrane Scientist Award, European Research Council Starting Grant, Swiss National Science Foundation Assistant Professor Energy Grant, among others.